23 Things You Should Do Before You’re 23

List of 23 things

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?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @Suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks

312 thoughts on “23 Things You Should Do Before You’re 23

  1. What a great response and really suits the 30’s vs the 20’s. In saying that … I think I nearly got through her list before I was in my mid 20’s and married.

  2. I came upon this post through a couple of other response posts to the 23 Things post. I guess that original post really touched a lot of nerves…:) Your post is a better guide to the things someone should actually do, while the original was mainly the list of things someone should do if they have nothing better to do. While it had things that I support 100%, like getting a passport or adopting a pet, there were quite a few suggestions of things to do just to regret them later.

  3. This is a brilliant article! I agree with everything on this list (it definitely makes more sense) and have done nearly all of them. I am 25 and have A Boy who I have been with for 3 and a half years – we are in no hurry to get married, if we do at all, and I don’t even think I want children. But having kids or not, being married or not, doesn’t really effect how you live your life – you just do it in different ways. As long as you’re happy, who cares? Thanks!!

  4. Totally agree with number 18 (taking loads of photos)! I love looking back at old pictures and I think it’s a great way to capture and remind yourself of good memories 😀

  5. Amazing. What a great list. I think most people haven’t done many of those things before 33 or even 43. I wonder if 50 years ago, more people did these things before 23.

  6. I’m with you with number 19. I work as a cashier and I know how rude people can be. Also if I go to the shop or restaurant and the person isn’t all smiley, I understand, because I know that everyday he/she goes through the same sentences over and over again and people are asking him/her the same questions over and over again.

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      • Well, you did point out some of the things that I promised to work on, but I somehow forgot. Thanks to you, I remembered it again and I hope I’ll be able to accomplish them this time around.

  8. Suzie81,
    I had the same response to that post. I thought it was because I’m ‘older’, but this post disabused me of that notion. Thanks. Your list reveals the maturity of a few more lives of life wisdom and experience. You included a few ‘ME’ items but edited out the destructive and ridiculous. What’s wrong in our world that your version hasn’t gone viral???

  9. Very wise. I have one more: Learn to tell someone who is recently bereaved that you are sorry, you care about them, and you have a shoulder to offer, without gumming it up with cliches like. “time will heal”, “it was probably for the best”, ” and especially, ” They’re with The Lord now, everything’s all right”. Just to save yourself some remorse when you lose someone close, which you will.

  10. Your wise way beyond your years! Look forward to reading the rest of your blog. Thanks for liking my post on elect2care.com. Hope you sign up to receive it–we need all the help we can to spread words of compassion and intelligence!

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  12. Great Post, Suzie! Most of all I liked your #23. Life is pretty special, we have to spend more time focusing on what we have and less on what we don’t have. Thanks for helping remind me of that. I also wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m inspired by how successful your blog has become in not even a year. Keep up the good work!

  13. Lovely list! I created a similar post in December entitled “30 Things I’m Happy I Did Before 30.” http://notesbynatalie.com/2013/12/04/30-things-im-happy-i-did-before-30. It was so nice to reflect back and make note of the things I was actually happy I did over the past few decades. After reading this post, specifically #18, I realized I forgot to mention in my list that I’m so glad I always took pictures of the things that made me happy. It’s always nice to take a trip down memory lane.

    Great blog as well! 🙂

  14. Pingback: 30 Things I’m Happy I Did Before 30 | Notes by Natalie

  15. I really enjoyed this post. If you keep up this positive outlook and embrace each day, your life will be fulfilling and satisfying. On my 50th b-day I wanted to do something different to celebrate the milestone. So, I decided to have 50 new experiences over the year…new paces, things, foods, people, skills…whatever. I got pretty close to that goal at year’s end. The point being, life is an adventure full of possibilities. Enjoy the journey!

  16. I think these could be great suggestions for ANY age, Suzie! But especially the younger people who would be rather challenged to go 24 hours without media and other ideas you gave! I love the last ones, the best! Even at 58 years old, I don’t “Splurge on myself” enough and the last one is special since we all need to be grateful for what we do have! Smiles, Robin

    • Thanks Robin! I think you’re right – I don’t know where I would be without the media! You’ve inspired me to do something – I’ll let you know when it’s done!

  17. Certainly a great bit of wisdom. It always perplexes me when people choose to ignore the fact that with age, you’ve got to learn responsibility. 3, 6, 19, and 23 should be necessary.

  18. My daughter did every single one of these things before she was or at the age of 23. Unfortunately she took her own life at 23 on 4-11-13, but that’s another story all together and has no meaning in your post. Had she not been severely depressed, all those things would have carried her through. Great list though that should be followed.

  19. Hi Suzie. What a great list. I was going to write I wish I could have accomplished that by the time I was 23, but realized it wasn’t true. I’m not unhappy with the arc of my life. The being comfortable in my own skin thing, and the gratitude thing – well they took me until I was 53ish, and at 63 I’m still working on them. I can say I accomplished just about all the other things including getting married at 21, separated at 22 and divorced at 23. I didn’t waste any time 🙂
    I’ve been exploring your wonderful blog – there’s an authenticity to it that I didn’t come to until much later in life.
    I know it’s been ages (we’ve been without the internet for a while) but thank you for the ‘like’ on the post about Bolivia. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
    Blessings, Alison

  20. I loved it… And number 20 made me laugh 😀

    I am thinking in participating in your Happiness challenge. Is a pingback enough?

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  22. As I said on Twitter– I hardly completed any of these items at 23. I did complete more of the list as I went through my 30s. It’s a good list that I think is never really too late to work on. I wish people of all ages would do #19, really– it would make a lot of service workers lives MUCH easier.

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