There are so many articles out there telling young women what they should have accomplished before a certain age. As if it's written in stone: backpack through Asia, find a partner, be an adult. And so we go through our twenties with this irrational fear of falling "behind" or missing out or not living our lives to the "fullest", because a bunch of listicles cluttering our newsfeed tell us we have a lot to accomplish in this short time.
I understand the logic behind it; your twenties are the time in your life where you can make mistakes and have time to fix them. Your twenties are a time where you have fewer responsibilities outside of yourself and you can afford to be selfish. But I'm not down with the narrow mindset that logic can inspire. I don't want to save up to take a trip around the world before my thirties kick in. I loathe the idea of putting all of your energy in into one big adventure that will end and send you off into a proceeding "adventure-less" life. I believe that you should live your life to the fullest at every age. And the "fullest" means something different to everyone.
I want travel to be a part of my life always — I don't want to get it out of the way while I don't have kids or credit card debt. I don't want to put pressure on finding a life partner now because that's what society tells me. I want to do things when they feel right for me and you should do the same for yourself.
Oh, and squash those lists you doodled in your junior high notebooks about getting married at 26 having your first baby by 27 and the second by 29 and syncing your third pregnancy to your little sister's first so that your kids can be friends. You can orchestrate life like that. Live it, don't plan it. Here are 12 things you DO NOT have to do before you turn 30.
For those of us who want to get married, but haven't yet: Seriously, relax. I know your friends are getting engaged and you might be tired of going to other people's weddings, but if that is something you want, it will happen when it happens. This is one thing you do not want to rush. Think about it: would you rather get married now to anyone willing just to fit in with your friends, or would you rather wait and find someone who is your greatest match?
Own something big
Advertisers love marketing big purchases to young professionals. How tired are you of watching car commercials where a young woman who just got her first job is wandering into the dealership like a deer in headlights, nervous for her next step? Buying something hugely expensive is not a required next step! Save your money if you want, you'll be glad you did.
Have good credit
Medical bills happen. Student loan defaults happen. Those forgotten cable bills happen. While good credit is important, don't beat yourself up about not having a dazzling credit score just yet. There's always time to turn it around. Just be smart and stay on top of your bills.
Have a job you love
It takes time to find the right job. You might need to kiss a lot of offices before you find your job charming. Don't stress out if you haven't found it yet. You have tons of time for trial and error, and even if you don't love your job, you're learning.
Traveling is expensive and time consuming and stressful. If you don't have it in your budget or schedule to travel, don't sweat it. One day you will. While backpacking through Asia might sound awesome, building a life you like and can afford is awesome too. Asia will still be there.
Have nice furniture
Long live IKEA and third degree used Craigslist furniture. I know plenty of adults who have terrible furniture and their lives are great. I also know a few adults who have gorgeous furniture and they're not any happier than any one else. There is time in life for leather couches and chaise lounges, but trust me, your happiness is not dependent on them.
Have a pet
If you want a pet, get one. But having one doesn't make you any more adult or accomplished. For the sake of its well-being and yours, don't rush it!
Know how to keep plants alive
You should make an effort to keep it alive if you have one, but don't beat yourself up if your plants don't stick around too long. It happens to everyone.
Make smart choices
We learn from our mistakes, we really do. So when you make one, accept it and learn from it. As you get older you should put more consideration into every choice you make, but sometimes you'll fail — as long as you have good intentions and learn from it, that's fine.
I don't know how or why reckless sports became a fad for twentysomethings, but it's not a requirement or a rite of passage. If you don't want to jump out of a plane or take some other similar risk, you don't have to! You can live an affirmed life without living on the edge.
Have casual sex
You are the only one who gets to decide what kind of sex you're comfortable having, and how often you're comfortable having it. Maybe you're gettin' it on the reg, and maybe you're not, but you shouldn't feel like you have to be one or the other — even if there is pressure to "let loose" or "get serious" in your twenties. The only thing you should accomplish by 30 is an understanding of what makes you happy and satisfied when it comes to decisions about (and that it isn't the business of anyone you don't feel like sharing it with)sss.
Know what's next
You don't need to have your life figured out. You're going to figure it out as you go along, so don't let anyone pressure you into having some sort of grand plan. Don't stress over five-year plans or 10-year plans — plan for the next day and relax. You're doing just fine.