A checklist of sorts.
Lists on the internet are so irresistible. Thought Catalog and Buzzfeed endlessly thrive on this format, and I contribute to an unhealthy percentage of those list readers. So here is one, the quarter century milestone. What I have accomplished and what I am yet to make peace with and things that are still work in progress. This is not something you need to apply to your life, because you and I are as different as different can be. Make your own list.
1. Parents - this is the big one. Make peace with your parents. Get to know them, as infuriating as it is, get to know their political party preference and their views on homosexuality. Reason with them why you are right or try to see what their point of view is. And if they have, give them credit for how far they have come to accept changes in the society from when they were kids. The last two years of living with my parents gave me tons of opportunity to do this, though it did end in a lot of shouting matches, all in all my dad and I know that we both can think differently and it's not the end of the world. You may even learn how to debate like a grown up. This is the time where you forgive them for all their flawed parenting when you were a teenager, because they were younger and learning too. Nothing can change what you grew up with, let go of that resentment, you can't blame your current life based on their behaviour anymore.
2. If you have any kind of a job, for the love of everything that is holy - open a savings account. Trust me when I say no one loves spending money on things you want and trips you must take right now more than me, but you gots to save some cash kids. Even $10 a week is $520 at the end of the year, if you plan well that could be a really good plane ticket and trip. Save. And if, you have even more disposable income at the end of the month - invest it. Get a beginner app like robinhood.com which is free stock trading app and start with $100 if that is all you can afford to lose. The joy of making the first $1 on it is the best.
3. Recognize it when you meet people who you know deep inside are better than you. I have a list of about 5-7 people so far who I have met/or am friends with in real life who I think are the smartest people ever. Also be clear on why you look up to them, try to emulate as far as possible these traits in your everyday life. These are the people you want to bounce your career questions with, or if it's worth moving across countries for the "love of your life". It may not be the same person. One person could be the smartest person career wise, another could be the most informed of the lot, and the third could be someone who has the guts to do things you are never going to be able to do.
4. Kiss someone you think is out of your league; models, lawyers, bankers, scientists, sailors, whatever floats your boats. And don't worry about if they are going to call you after. Just do it for the fun of it. And if you don't want to/can't kiss them then at least tell them how hot they make you. No body minds being told that they are attractive. 20 seconds of insane courage is all you need. I once told an extremely attractive tall blond guy I spotted at a farmer's market that I thought he looked very handsome. And that's it, just bolted the hell out of there. But so what, it's a great story to tell later.
5. Be straight up in a potential relationship about what you feel. Just do it, even if it means mosby-ing it and saying I love you on the first date - if that’s how you really feel, say it. Tell them that you want them, directly and not on text. Look at them straight in the face and say I want you and I want to be with you. While other smarter people will tell you it's good to keep some mystery and not to show all your cards right away - but I will tell you it's liberating when all the feelings are out of your head and out in the open. The responsibility of what happens from it suddenly shifts from you. - I did this once, didn't end well but it was totally worth it. - 10/10 would do it again.
6. Stop trying to live up to what you should be by 25, according to your family/culture or worse the internet. Do your own thing. And don't be upset if what you want for you is exactly what your parents want for you, that's okay too.
7. Work a service job to gain some understanding of how tipping works in some places and how it doesn't in others. Also understand that what definitely works everywhere in the world is being polite to people who wait on you and not being an asshole.
8. Give people a genuine chance, and a second chance if you must.
9. Befriend people who are nothing like you, and then amaze yourself by all the things you still have in common with them.
10. Learn to say no to other people. This is something I still struggle with. But say no when you know you aren't going to want to do it later. If you are anything like me and hate confrontational situations, practice with your friends they will forgive you faster - but don't be a jerk to them just because you can.
11. Learn to say no to yourself. If you hate skinny jeans; no power in the world is strong enough to make you wear them. Same with heels, or ties. Don't keep smoking or drinking if you are going to feel like shit later,
12. Find a hobby that makes you look forward to being alone (talking on the phone with your friends is not a hobby).
13. Try really hard to not be on the internet all day. This is the hardest of the lot. It’s like running. Start slow, a few minutes a day and see how soon you can hit an hour. Imagine that! An hour without internet. And realize how you didn't die by not checking your Instagram every 2 minutes. Interact with people in real life, this is a thing guys, we need to keep it going.
14. Take advantage of health insurance, and if you don't have it - work towards to getting one. Once you get one you will judge your pre-insured self for living all these years without one.
15. Freedom is a 3:30am trip to the diner/dhaba with a bunch of strangers you have just met. Equally fun when done with the same group of friends you have hung out with for the last 13 years.
16. Concerts. Go to all the music festivals you have wanted to. Explore all the music there is and see it live if you are lucky. The patience to stand loud music and overcrowded spaces decreases substantially with age.
17. But also start collecting music in a reliable way/place. I don’t know what the most reliable format is anymore, but try to. This is music from your high school days that you will always be slightly embarrassed about, all the music you discovered in college. And everything you enjoy now. Maybe start paying for music too, it's kind of cool to own it.
18. Go out and watch that movie, read that book and listen to that band you lied about already having watched, read or heard. And don't be scared to do things alone, whether it's eating out or watching movies by yourself.
19. Date someone who says I love you first. You could also be the person who says it first, if you aren't usually. It's not a competition.
20. Suck it up and by a MacBook Pro, and that phone.
21. Leave the country/travel under the premise of 'finding yourself'. This will be unsuccessful. Places do now change people. People change people. Instead, read a lot, have a lot of sex (or don't) (0 or 100, your number means nothing to anyone), drink a lot with people and alone and come home when you start to miss it.
22. Identify your fears and instead of letting them dictate you’re every decision, find and talk to people who have overcome them. Don't settle for anything less than the 100% of what you can achieve. If your fear is being a terrible dancer, find a really great dancer and make them dance with you and make you look good. This is what the internet is for - to find a plethora of people who have the exact same fear as you and to find out what they did to overcome it. There is a wikihow for everything under the sun. Wikihow does not disappoint. Neither do tumblr-ers, twitter-ers, redditors, quor-ans etc.
23. Learn how to let go. Just because it fit at one point doesn't mean you need to keep it forever - whether 'it' is your favorite pair of pants or your ex.
24. Make a habit of telling people how you feel, this could be the fan-mail to your favorite artist or author or telling your boss why you deserve a raise or even to a friend who you don't really keep in touch with but think about a lot. Because life is but a fleeting moment. Like I said before, everyone likes to be told they are loved or admired.
25. Quit that job that’s making you miserable (this is when those savings will come in handy), end the relationship that makes you act like a lunatic, lose the friend whose sole purpose in life is making you feel like you’re perpetually on the verge of vomiting. You’re young, you’re resilient, there are other jobs and relationships and friends if you’re patient and open.