At the end of 2013 I saw an article that caught my eye. It turns out, it also caught the eyes of millions of others and I watched it closely as it has went viral, spawning thousands of comments that both praised and vilified the author in equal measure.
I don’t have an opinion on the age that somebody should get married and I am certainly not using this as an opportunity to attack the author. A friend of mine, who married at the age of 22 and who now has two beautiful children once told me that she wanted to share her life with her husband and children rather than living it on her own first, and I thought it was a lovely sentiment to have. However, ’23 Things To Do Instead Of Getting Engaged At 23′ was a title that instantly appealed to me – at thirty-three years old I am not married, despite the fact that I have lived with The Bloke for quite a few years – and because of this I had an expectation that this post was going to offer some fantastic ideas or life advice that would inspire me.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. The list of things that were given, such as eat a jar of Nutella in one sitting, disappoint your parents, hangout naked in front of a window, cut your hair, make out with a stranger and sign up for CrossFit wasn’t just uninspiring, it was downright silly (and in some cases, dangerous). I have eaten a jar of Nutella in one sitting, I have disappointed my parents (many times), I have cut my hair, but I found it ridiculous to list these as an alternative to engagement.
However boring this may sound, being an adult means having some level of responsibility, regardless of marital status. Therefore, I created my own list of things that I believe that everyone should do before they are twenty-three, whether they are married or not.
1. Gain as many qualifications as possible. These don’t have to be academic qualifications, there are lots of vocational alternatives.
2. Learn to be financially knowledgable. This may not necessarily mean financial independence, but it is important to know how to pay bills, live to a budget and understand how a bank account works.
3. Learn to cook from scratch and prepare nutritious meals with minimal ingredients. Good for the health, good for the bank balance.
4. Know how to look after yourself. Be able to keep yourself, your clothes and your home clean (you’d be surprised how many nineteen year olds that I know that still don’t have a concept of this).
5. Learn to be comfortable in your own skin, and being alone with yourself.
6. Know your alcohol limit. Just occasionally, be able to stop drinking before you go over it. It doesn’t stop you from staying out until 6.00am, it just means you can do so without having vomit in your hair.
7. In between disappointing your parents, which will usually at some point be inevitable, take the time to appreciate them and tell them how much they mean to you.
8. Occasionally, take the time to do absolutely nothing but indulge yourself. Rest, relax, recharge your batteries. Have a long hot bath, read a book, sleep all day.
9. If you can, travel as much as possible with people you love. It doesn’t have to be abroad – explore the sights and sounds of your home country. Road trip, anyone?
10. Give your time to a charitable cause.
11. Go out in fancy dress.
12. Learn at least the basic elements of a foreign language. It’s rude the assume that the rest of the world will speak English.
13. See your favourite singer/band in concert.
14. Forgive (although this doesn’t mean you have to forget) and move on.
15. Spend 24 hours without any media – no internet, tv, phone or consoles. See what you accomplish in your boredom.
16. Learn to say no, to yourself and to others.
17. Get rid of that one rude, inconsiderate friend who makes your time together a chore. Best thing I ever did.
18. Take photographs. Lots of photographs.
19. Get a job working in the service/retail industry. Trust me, after eighteen months of working at McDonalds and three years working in a nightclub, I’ll never be rude to a waitress, shop assistant or barman ever.
20. Understand that if you really want something, you’re going to have to start working for it, or be really good at asking for it.
21. Spontaneously do something that you have never done before.
22. Splurge on something that you’ve always wanted.
23. Ultimately, don’t allow fear to stop you from doing something that you have always wanted to accomplish. It’s better to try and fail than to wonder about the ‘what ifs.’
What about you guys? Are there life lessons you believe you should follow from an early age?
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