I used to think that once I hit the age of 20, things would magically fall into place and I would miraculously know ways to transition to the real world and have all of the secrets of being a grown-up revealed to me. Everything would be figured out and I'd just know how to do things. As shocking as it may be to hear, that's not exactly what happened.
Shuffling off that graduation stage and trying not to trip over my robe in all my anxious grace, I hesitantly held that diploma like it was a one-way ticket to this whole new scary world in which I was expected to be an entirely different person, or at least some sort of upgraded version of myself. But one of the first things I realized is that this is one of the first things that should be dismissed when transitioning into a new period of your life. Because that's the thing. It's a transition.
Naturally, as you get older, you take on more responsibility and people will expect more of you, but the truth is that everyone's still just figuring it all out a little bit each day. Of course, that's not to say that you should just sit back and expect that this wisdom will eventually be bestowed upon you, like I once thought. There are little things you can actively implement in your lifestyle that'll ease that transition into the adult world. Here are nine of them.
1. Embrace Simplicity
Your days of the cluttered dorm rooms are now a nostalgic glimmering beacon of the past. Try to get out of hoarding habits and pack-rat tendencies and really start focusing on what it is you actually need. Reducing clutter in your life — both literally and figuratively — will just give you more room to breathe and hone in on what's important. It provides the clarity and space for you to get it all together. And this applies to more than just minimalist decor — you can make your wardrobe look more grown up by keeping it simple and classy or go for a more natural look that truly speaks more to your maturity than piling on makeup and hair products.
2. Get Your Fingers On Your Finances
This is one of those not-so-fun parts we keep hearing about adulthood but just seem to stow away in the back of our minds until we actually have to worry about it. Like taxes? Maintaining a good credit score? Budgeting for student loans? Let me just bury myself in the blissful blankets from the days of preschool nap time while I'm at it. But here's the thing. The more involved and informed you get about your finances, the less scary and easier they'll be. Now is the best time to ask the questions, seek help whenever you can, and start to look into understanding how it all works. From personal experience, I can tell you that one easy way to do that is to stay on top of your finances by creating a budget for yourself. Keep track of how much money you're spending on what, and you'll soon get a good handle on what you should be prioritizing.
3. Spend The Money On The Quality
In line with keeping track of your finances, you can, and should, allow yourself to splurge a little bit on some of the more important things. Products you put on your face like makeup or moisturizers, professional clothing, and even food, are things worth spending the extra dollars on. In all cases, you're pretty much making an investment and helping yourself out in the long run, whether it's that it'll last longer, it's more efficient, or just better and healthier for you overall. Because that cheap foundation you bought that caused you to break out or the cheaper blouse with the super loose threads and uneven creases will actually cost you more to fix later on. It's a simple and cost effective way to treat yourself and look put together and all grown up.
4. Make A Habit Of Staying Informed
You don't have to subscribe to every newspaper or download every phone app to stay updated on absolutely every level, but it's good to know what's going on right around you and in the world. Maybe during your morning commute, your lunch hour, or any convenient part of the day when you have a little downtime, tune in to the news in whatever form you like. Some good ole NPR, a copy of the New York Times at a coffee shop, or even a quick scroll through credible news sources you follow on Twitter — just make sure you do.
5. Cultivate Hobbies Other Than Drinking & Partying
I don't mean to sound presumptuous in assuming that's all you do, because it probably isn't. But at least I know that when the weekend came around, after a long week of working and studying, all I could think about was what bar to hit up or what party was going on. And don't get me wrong, the weekend is surely your time to just let go and release all that stress. But maybe trade a Friday night out with doing something you love that you may not have time for during the week.
6. Always Read
It doesn't necessarily have to be a book, but try making a habit of staying engaged in something whenever you can. This is perfect for when you're traveling, commuting, or those extra long waiting room hours. When you're constantly reading something, your brain just begins thinking more critically and creatively. In fact, The Huffington Post listed six science-backed reasons you should read: It chills you out, keeps your brain sharp, can stave off Alzheimer's disease, helps you sleep better, makes you more empathetic, and can ease depression.
7. Get A Handle On The Household Tasks
Now is the time to finally learn the right way to do your laundry. Because while shoving all your whites, delicates, and jeans into one overcrowded messy pile — for the sake of saving time and money, of course — was an acceptable and forgivable thing during your college years, it's good to start taking better care of your clothes.
The same goes for cleaning. A quick Windex wipe-down may have done the trick after several spilled drinks on the beer pong table, but you'll want to start getting a better handle on some deeper cleaning. Yup — toilets, countertops, floors, fridge — the works. It's not as difficult or time-consuming as you may think. If you set up a solid schedule for yourself, it'll become easier to maintain overall and won't be such a project each time. Apartment Therapy shared some great tips for quick ways to deep clean your home that you should totally check out.
8. Toss Out That Ramen & Easy Mac
Praise be to the cheap convenience of processed instant food that helped us get through our all-nighter study sessions and 3 a.m. drunk munchies. But all this must also come to its respective end at this time of your life. I'm not saying you have to turn into Julia Child or Anthony Bourdain here, but channel some of that culinary creativity and learn how to cook just some simple meals. It's healthier for you, will taste better, and also keeps you more engaged and in control of what you buy and consume. There are so many beginner's recipes and cookbooks out there made especially for the purpose of adjusting to living on your own. I mean just check out these 12 easy recipes for lazy twenty-somethings. It doesn't get much better than that, folks.
9. Prioritize Your Health
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself, especially when things start to get even crazier and you honestly just don't know where time even goes anymore or what day of the week it is, is to follow up on your health. This is one of those things that you may have dismissed before because either someone was taking care of you, or yeah — you're young and resilient and stuff just doesn't affect you as much. That's not to say that the second you graduate and go forth into the world you'll freakishly come down with all of the ailments. But it's just a good habit to establish now, to make things easier for yourself and really just be reassured that you're on top of things and everything's OK.
Growing up isn't easy to do to say the very least, but you can ease some of those growing pains with some simple tricks and tips, so why not give them a try?
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