Saturday, 4 January 2014

20 Things To Do Before You're 20

So there's been this article circulating on my Facebook newsfeed for some days now,"23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23". Bare in mind that my Facebook is mainly populated by 18-21 year old people, and so this article has been re-posted, which is kind of awkward because some people on my Facebook are both engaged, and under the age of 23. Even the article itself, on the original blog (posted below) has triggered a huge war-of-words in the comments section.

From the blog Wander Onwards;

Naturally, the main people commenting seem to be women who got engaged under or at the age of 23, and who are speaking about how they don't regret this life choice. The opposition seems to consist mainly of other women, who agree with the premise of the article. However, when I looked at the "to-do" list of the article itself, a couple of items struck me as unnecessary, or pretty childish behaviour for a 23 year old. As a result, I've produced an edited version.

"23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23" (the article can be found at

1. Get a passport. - I agree with this. One of my friends was 18 and had never had a passport, and so as well as a load of paperwork he had to be interviewed in person to answer questions about himself and prove his own identity, which I can imagine was a bizarre and time-consuming experience.
2. Find your “thing." - Vague, but I agree with the idea, see below for more specific suggestions.
3. Make out with a stranger. Personal preference, obviously, but I'd rather not. Haven't you ever seen films when the "stranger" turns out to be someone you meet in the next few days, usually in a situation which involves you working for them?
4. Adopt a pet. - Fair enough, if you have the time and money, and are not living in university halls, why not.
5. Start a band. - If you want to.
6. Make a cake. Make a second cake. Have your cake and eat it too.- Fine, let them eat cake, but I'm surprised this made someone's top "23 things to do before you're 23" list. I mean, can't you do this before or after you're aged 23?
7. Get a tattoo. It’s more permanent than a marriage. - Isn't this exactly why you shouldn't rush into this? Personally I wouldn't, laser removal is expensive, and my tastes of what does and doesn't look good seem to change year on year at the moment. Even my clothes aren't the same style, and you can shed them easier than skin.
8. Explore a new religion. - this sounds fair enough. Although for those who don't feel inclined towards any religion, I'd supplement a kind of spirituality-based meditation.
9. Start a small business.- This could be cool. For an easier target, hold a car-boot sale (yard sale) and raise money by selling your unwanted, but still usable goods. Or sell lemonade from a stall outside your house.Think big.
10.Cut your hair.- I get my hair cut regularly, but I presume this means cut it yourself? Well, I cut my fringe myself, that can count.
11. Date two people at once and see how long it takes to blow up in your face. - great idea, I'm sure hurting people deliberately (hey, if they question it just show them this list you're working through...) is a fantastic way to get through life. Oh, wait, you'd hate it if this were role-reversal, and you were the one being cheated on for the sake of "experimenting".
12. Build something with your hands.- Fair enough. Though I'm counting myself out of this one. The last thing I attempted to make with my hands was a wooden box in which all of the edges are not straight, nor are they even.
13. Accomplish a Pinterest project. - I agree with the sentiment of this, but there's so many more options - see below.
14. Join the Peace Corps. - only applicable if you're an American citizen.
15. Disappoint your parents. - Again, why aim to hurt people intentionally? Part of growing up is learning how to deal with people you've disappointed, and believe me, you'll disappoint your parents, whether that's by running away from home, drinking too much, or just forgetting to do the hovering, is up to you. Just don't set out to do it, it's far less forgivable.
16. Watch GIRLS, over and over again. - Ok, so I don't know what this is. Maybe this one is fine. Then again, maybe not. Why should I watch whole seasons of actors pretending to live lives which in reality even they don't lead, when in reality I could be pursuing a real, unscripted life of my own?
17. Eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting. - I am not opposed to Nutella.
18. Make strangers feel uncomfortable in public places. - Why? Do you like being uncomfortable in public places? Strange suggestion.
19. Sign up for CrossFit. - Again, I don't know what this is. Substitute with something from the list below.
20. Hangout naked in front of a window. - This is illegal in some countries. Also, there could be children inside? How do you know who's window it is?
21. Write your feelings down in a blog. - Guilty as charged. See all around.
22. Be selfish. - Or, attempt to be a decent person. See volunteering suggestions below.
23. Come with me to the Philippines for Chinese New Year. - Ok, I'm not being very fair here, this is clearly something personal relating to the blog author, but I won't be taking up the suggestion, regardless.

Here are my own substitutes for the above list...
1. Volunteer close to where you live.

There's a community project, a library, a school, there's something, somewhere near you that you could be a part of, and really gain from the experience too. Volunteering can offer the chance to learn new skills, understand more about yourself, and the way that you interact with other people (e.g. what motivates you? How are other people motivated?) as well as the feeling that you've benefitted the lives of other people whilst helping yourself. In addition, volunteering in your home town is a good idea before you're 20 - because who knows where you'll choose to live after that! Here's a tool for those of you in the UK looking for something local.

There's also this site, which is an easy way to make a massive difference to a child's life. Plus you don't even have to leave your house (well, except to post the letter you write...) 
2. Attempt to gain some of work experience in another country, or at least, an area that you are unfamiliar with.
So this is good for some of the same reasons as the above, but in a new environment you'll be able to realise the cultural differences. From just a slightly different regional accent, or food preference in another area of your country, to a new continent, language and mainstream religion, go as far as you are able to (admittedly you'll probably have to save up before you go abroad for any length of time to work...)

My blog about interning in Washington D.C, last summer;

My sister's blog, on volunteering to teach English in Thailand;
3. Learn something in another language. You've probably done a language to GCSE level, many years ago. You could try to resurrect that, or learn something completely "out there" like Japanese. Mandarin is also becoming increasingly useful for those considering careers in finance, business and banking.

4. Start an artistic presence for yourself. This could be offline, like a journal, scrapbook, or a collage. Or it could be online. No, not those party photos on Facebook or those filtered photos you proudly post to Instagram. Start a Blog, or get a Polyvore or Pininterest or Tumblr account. These things are genuinely creative, with the scope to do something really original, or at least personal. Personally, I like the ability to draft and publish things in Polyvore, see

“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.”
5. Do something that 5 years ago you would have never considered doing - AND that you won't be able to do in 5 year's time.
Right, so I don't mean anything reckless or anything you think will make you seem more adult (if you're thinking that as you do something, it generally doesn't work, I've found). I mean something like stand for a position in a society you're part of, or take over running a group that you've attended for years. Run to stand as a council representative for your class/college/club. Something that shows that you recognise how much you've changed as a person.

 6. Write a list of questions for your future self;
- Where do you want to be living in 5 years time? Which country? What kind of house?
- What job would you like to be doing in 5 years time?
- Do you think you'll have any pets in 5 years time?
- What's your favourite colour at the moment?
- and your favourite type of food? etc.
In 5 years time, look back, laugh, write a corrected version (i.e, what actually happened) and then start again, maybe for another 10 year's time.

7. Get a pen/e-pal.

You don't have to move from in front of your computer, or your desk. It's a way to find out about how another person experiences and perceives life, at your own pace. It can also be a way of specifically learning about another culture or language. Plus it means that if you travel, you don't feel completely alone, if you know that your pen/e-pal is out there, somewhere on the same continent as you, even if you've never met.
8. Earn money in a minimum-wage job.
Be a papergirl/boy, or a waitress/waiter, or a tea-lady/ tea man(?), a cleaner, work behind a till in a shop. Or maybe even a lab technician, if you're feeling adventurous. Just see what it's like to work in a job that people rely on, but don't always respect as much as they should. It's not all about the big guys.

9. Study hard for a test and submit something before a deadline.

Then compare to a time that you handed in something late, or something you know was not your best work. You'll notice the difference, and so will your tutor. Now you know the worth of doing something well, and the justified pride it can bring, you're more likely to be more organised in the future, and if not, you'll understand what you missed out on.

10. Cook at least one meal from raw ingredients, potentially to share.

Note; beans on toast does not count. I'm still working on this one.

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