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24 Grown-Up Things to Do Before You Grow Up

by Emily Wilcox 4 months ago in self help

A fun-damental to-do list before it’s too late

Image by author. Milkshakes by some cute bloke wearing eyeliner.

I’m 25 tomorrow.

May 30th 2021, marking the title sequence to my quarter life crisis. And man, it’s going to be epic.

I’m 24 for one more sunrise, sunset combo, and that’s it. I have one final chance of being the same age as there are hours in a day, and days, much like this chapter of my life, come to an end. So I’ve decided to compile a list of 24 things that I can do today, right now and for the rest of my forever, to ensure that it’s not just each chapter of my life that’s a good one — but each passing page.

These are things that don’t require too much planning, too much time, too much self-inflicted scalpeling in order to remove your own spleen and pawn it on the dark web in exchange for a little bit of cash. Things that are accessible and alluring and achievable by us all (yeah. Even me). Things that are actually productive, useful, that’ll make transitioning into my mid-twenties much like melted Galaxy chocolate: silky smooth and affordable.

It doesn’t include bungee jumping (because, you know, I happen to like being alive). Nor any spontaneous tattoos with your work mates (though I did do exactly that two days ago). There’s not even a converted camper-van digital nomad lifestyle recommendation (I’d only end up parking outside a McDonald’s 24 hour drive-thru until I’m too chunky to squeeze into the passenger seat). These are actually practical suggestions and that’s how you know my existential crisis is going to be a chaotic one. This is merely the calm before the storm.

So here you have it you young’uns. Let’s grow:

24 Grown-Up Things to Do Before You Grow Up

1. Upgrade your damn phone. It’s time, son. I know your iPhone 5S has served you well over the years, but life has evolved, apps have updated, storage capacity has increased. Your screen is shattered, your battery life depleting and when you take the case off it smells like stale beer. I know material possessions are not a crucial element of The Good Life™, but it’d be nice to be able to Whatsapp you without your phone glitching so manically it tears open a new dimension right there in your palm.

2. Delete Snapchat. You don’t need it. I promise you you don’t need it. Unless your existential purpose is to document every strange (yet soon-to-be-soulmate) lady you meet in the loos on a night out — delete it. All your memories are still saved in the servers, you can redownload it at any time to log in and save them. But for now, make that first move. Delete that damn app.

3. Learn how to bleach the toilet. Supposedly it’s easy. I wouldn’t know. I read An Inspector Calls at school and (spoiler alert) the girl died in the infirmary by drinking bleach to take her own life. Put me right off utilising it for household purposes in case I mistook it for a mocktail and took a swig. But now it’s time. Your skid-marks are your problem to deal with, nobody else’s.

4. Get up early. I’m not lying to you: morning is the best time of day. It’s where the three breakfasts live. It’s where the half episode of Vampire Diaries whilst journaling about last night’s naked-celeb dream lives. Waking up late is like walking into a movie half hour after it’s already begun. You’re wasting the opening montage of your own life. Now, I promise I’m not Ryan Holiday or James Clearing or Brian Buddha-ing you here. I’m not telling you to rise at 5am and do 89 push-ups whilst the kettle boils. I’m just saying, the earlier you get up, the more time you have to yourself to just — I don’t know — be.

5. Join a gym. Bet you never thought you’d hear me say this, right? Well I am. And not just because it’s an excuse to eat more. Not just because there’s an exceptional amount of boys gathered in one place. Not just because the gym’s vending machine is surprisingly well stocked. But because feeling yourself getting stronger is euphoric. Health is contagious. Energy is addictive. Exercise — so I hear — is good for you. And feeling good is, well, never bad.

6. Take your grandparents out for the day. They might be slow, they might be deaf, they might insult your weight, but they’re your family. They are the root cause of your existence. They love you in ways they don’t even know how to express without being slightly offensive. Just for one day, take them out, grab a baked potato, help them cash a cheque at the bank, spend an hour at a cat cafe chattering away about their life. Listen to them. Learn about the lives that came before your own. Love your elders.

7. Book a tattoo. Immortalise your favourite quote, the date you lost your cherry (the glacier one from that Bakewell tart), the drawing of a caterpillar your nephew gave to you. Illustrate your life’s story by using the blank canvas of your body to show off who it is that you are.

8. Tell that person you fancy that you fancy them. Nobody ever fell in love by holding back. You don’t see married couples of twenty odd years too shy to hold hands. You have to put yourself out there, even if you’re the only one who turns up. Maybe they won’t fancy you back (unlikely: have you seen how much of a fit babe you are?), but that’s fine. At least if you’re out there, you’re going to be seen — by somebody who cannot tear their eyes off you. So have a swig of tequila and tell that checkout boy his smirk makes you sweaty.

9. Start challenging everything. I mean everything. Just because something is common and done by all, doesn’t make it right. Like the 40 hour work week. Like society’s belief that showing emotions is weak. Like the notion that love is only found when you stop looking for it. Like first drafts having to suck. Stop taking everything at face value. If you stop, investigate, try things out for yourself — maybe you’ll find that actually, 2 plus 2 doesn’t equal 4.

10. Plan some Weird Crap™ to do with your cousin. Me and my cou-sin, my soulmate, my cherry bombshell, we’re planning all sorts. Raid some museums. Haul ass to a haunted forest in Romania. Move into a Wetherspoons. Attend next years Eurovision. Enter a polygamous, incestuous relationship with an Italian rock singer. Just stuff, you know?

11. Make peace with what you haven’t done. This one is hard, I know. Time passes and plans crumble and goals are missed. There are books we wanted to write before we’re 22 and now we’re 22: The Extended Edition. There are gap years that slipped through the gaps. There are festivals and career plans and game-shows we wanted to attend and trial and sign up for, but just didn’t. Sometimes time escapes us. But that’s okay, you know? Just because we didn’t get things done by a certain point: doesn’t mean they’ll never been achieved. Maybe not when we’d planned for. But when they’re supposed to happen, they will.

12. And be proud of what you have. Write out a list of your achievements. Buy a chocolate bar for each one. Tweet about how ace you are. Bully your pals into baking you cheese scones. Allow yourself to feel proud, you know? We don’t always have to strive for self-improvement. We don’t always have to work to be a better person. We’ve done a lot in these lifetimes of ours, even if we don’t realise it. Sometimes, we can be bloody pleased with being exactly who we are right now.

13. Try salmon. Unless it was a fish finger or a tuna mayo sandwich, I wanted nothing to do with it. Now, I want to do nothing else but it. Salmon pasta. Salmon with new potatoes and steamed veg. Salmon John West light-lunches. It’s such a healthy addition to your meal. And it’s super friggin’ tasty. Granted, it’s a little pricey, but that just makes me feel like the lucrative grown up I’m sure I’ll one day create myself to be on Sims.

14. Sort your laptop storage out. You don’t need to keep every online menu PDF you’ve ever downloaded, no matter how good a read they are. Buy yourself an external hard drive, shove it all onto there, lob it into a drawer and forget all about it. Start afresh.

15. Stop shaving. Or shave more, depending on what you prefer. But my point is: do what you prefer. Let it all grow out or tear it off completely, whatever you fancy. But landscape on your own terms. This is your garden. You don’t mow your lawn because your neighbour six doors down asks you to — no matter how attractive he is. Your body, your choice, your fur-lined life.

16. Arrange a trip away with your mates. You don’t see them enough. You might think you do, but you don’t. Trust me. It’s understandable, don’t get me wrong, because life is busy and brutal and bloody incessant — so book some of your life off, further into the future, and pencil in your pals.

17. Share your darkest thoughts with your best friend. Me and mine share our weirdest, saddest, should-probably-contact-a-mental-health-professional-est thoughts, dreams, desires every single day. Our latest little psychotic sharing involved our mutual curiosity of arms being rammed into garbage disposals. What I mean is: find your people. They’re out there. You’re never, will never, could never ever be alone when this planet is comprised of nearly 8 billion people as weird and as wonderful as you are. All you have to do is look for them. Or Google some strange crap and let them find you.

18. Overspend on a journal. £13 I spent on my latest baby. She’ll last me approximately a month, tangibly, but her benefits are lifelong. Journaling is my newest, most favourite hobby. It promotes self-awareness. It distils your thoughts. It lays out your problems and allows you to reorganise and resolve. It’s a space for you to listen to yourself, to learn about yourself, to talk to somebody without having to talk to somebody. It’s a moment or seven away from a screen. It’s something we all should be doing, I swear. I’ve spent less than twenty quid to immortalise my life’s story. That’s pretty bang-for-your-buck if you ask me.

19. Eat 32 McChicken nuggets during two films at the cinema with your dad. It’s never wrong or bad or a waste of time, spending time with those you love most. Though, I’ll admit. If you do it like we do — it’s certainly bad for your bowels.

20. Sit beneath a tree with your mom for three hours and reminisce. We’re always so caught up on doing things and planning activities and looking to the future to find thrill and adventure and discounted escape room experiences that we forget to sometimes stop. Look around. Find a nice tree, shuffle into the shade, grab two packets of Reese’s Pieces snack mix, invite your mom to join you and for once, let yourself think about the past. We’re told so often to steer clear of it, leave it behind us, don’t for one minute glance over our shoulder and gaze upon it for fear that we’ll end up stuck there: but it’s okay to think about the good times you know? To wrap yourself up in a little nostalgia and reflect on the life you’ve lived thus far. That’s what me and mom did. She told me all about the years she’d lived before I even existed and it was like I was venturing right back through time, minus the lightspeed travel sickness. And like I said before: time with loved ones is time alive. Stories shared are stories lived. If you want to live longer, listen better.

21. Learn more about council tax. *Shrugs.*

22. Do whatever it takes to promote your self-awareness. I’ve spent this entire year trying to do exactly that. Meditation. Mindfulness. Yoga. Journaling. Exercise. Books. Emotional regulation. Affirmations. Podcasts and audiobooks and binaural beats. Some things worked. Others didn’t. And that’s the point. Keep trying until you find what’s right for you. Keep trying even when you already have. Take each day as it comes and be aware of every inch of your soul within it. You are a story that is being written with every new day — so don’t ever stop reading through it.

23. Fix your posture. Sit upright, shoulders back, stop slouching. Quit using your laptop in bed. Buy a standing desk. Upgrade your pillows. Stop packing half your existence into your rucksack — I can guarantee that you don’t need two hardback novels in there at all time. One’ll do.

24. Don’t worry about your age. Easier said than done, I know. I freak out four times a minute when I realise I’m going to be 25. I still live at home, I’ve never been in love, I’m too much of an Eternal 9 Year Old™ to have kids of my own, I don’t have a car nor a full time job and I have no idea what the future might entail. But then I remember, I’m lucky enough to be 25. I live at home where I’m loved (and superbly fed), I’m another year closer to finding a romance that not even Wattpad fanfic could contain, I don’t want kids, I hate driving, I get to spend each day of my existence writing and exploring and battling for sofa space with my cats, rather than trapped inside the suffocatingly dull walls of an office, and I get to live each day, plotting my own future and bringing it to life as I go. Just because I’m not doing what “everybody else is,” doesn’t mean I’m doing it wrong. I’m just doing it authentically, doing what’s right for me. There are no rules to this game we call Living™. Milestones are checkpoints not deadlines. We arrive at them in our own time of our own accord when we’re ready to get there. Age and dates and time, they’re nothing but a marker to help you index your journals and ensure your Greek yoghurt is still edible. Otherwise, it means nothing. Don’t worry about how old you are according to your revolutions around the sun. Worry about how much happiness you have radiated right back up at it. That’s all that matters. I promise you.

Closing Thoughts

I’ve now got 9 and half hours until I’m the same age as the number of playable characters in Mario Kart for the Wii. Already today I’ve inhaled a full English brekkie and refillable mochas with my mom. I watched a squirrel die in real time by the side of the road and cried whilst listening to Italian rock on the walk home. I shared a raspberry with a bee. I took several mirror selfies with my mom, whilst wearing identical outfits. I bought a screen protector, watched ASMR and thought about France. And then I applied healing gel to my newest, and first, tattoo.

Now? Now I’m going to find a nice tree, cosy up beneath it, whip out my journal and reminisce on being alive for 87,480 sunrises. And when that 87,480th sunset arrives, I’ll go to bed knowing that I’ve existed, out loud, in full and wholeheartedly as myself for every moment that I could.

Then it’s copy and paste into my next quarter-century and forever onward. Because life is for living and I’ve got 25 Pancake Day’s worth of joy to springboard me into the future.

I’ll see you in the early-bird breakfast queue, my loves.


Oh hey, whilst you’re here: why not put the “em” into your “emails” and lob your name onto my mailing list for weekly em-bellishments on my rose-tinted, crumb-coated lens of life. It’s the equivalent of the reduced section in the supermarket (low value Weird Crap™ that you didn’t know you needed).

self help

Emily Wilcox

I am a writer. I imagine in a parallel universe I might be a caricaturist or a botanist or somewhere asleep on the moon. But here I am a writer, armed with an astrophysics degree, a Paperchase pen and a half empty box of biscuits

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