- Behave as if you’re invincible.
No longer a teenager, not yet an adult. Half-fledged. You are expected to be largely silly/useless/incomprehensible to your elders. Use this. It is freedom.
A moment that changed me: waking up with a bad hangover – and two women.
- Go to nightclubs, dance, have sex with unsuitable people.
Fall in love 10 times a day, or at least have sex. You’ve got no excuse.
- Postpone adulthood.
Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Really? What is wrong with you? Yes, I get the financial pressure on today’s twentysomethings but some of this career stuff is frankly nonsense and always was. You find out what you want to do by doing it. Say yes more than no.
- See the world.
I spent months in Europe and had the longest affair of my life. I did every job imaginable to pay for these trips. They were often hard and lonely and dangerous and yet they formed me.
- Take risks.
You may well get attacked, beaten up or die of a drug overdose if you do any of the above. Don’t ask me to go into details: I am not your mum. Developing instinct and understanding risk are lessons worth learning. If you don’t want to take risks, get an allotment, a box set and a onesie.
Now you can get involved in almost anything you like. The world is only going to hell in a handcart if you don’t bother to learn how to drive a handcart.
- Get educated.
This is really difficult now as I am actually looking to go back to study again and the fees are horrendous. But read non-stop. Go to free talks and culture. Learn a skill. Indulge your passion. Understand that even if you are online much of the time, the power of words and images is a form of magic for you to harness.
- Stop looking for love.
There is no such thing as “the one”. There are several ones who will do for a bit. Most “love” is actually based on proximity (he/she sits near me). Your lasting relationships may very well not be based on your romantic connections. Trust me on that one.
- Go out.
Every night. All the time. Because you never know. This is the optimism of youth. It’s a beautiful crazed longing. Enjoy it.
You will never sleep like this again.
- Stop comparing yourself to your contemporaries who are doing brilliantly.
Look at those who are not doing much at all. You are probably somewhere in between. If you have anxiety attacks or depression, try to talk to someone, if only on the phone. It’s really common and attitudes have thankfully changed a lot since I was young. It’s OK to be sad. It’s not OK to feel totally alone with this feeling.
Why job interviews are pointless.
- Remember: all job interviews are awful.
So are a lot of jobs. I wish twentysomethings could be paid a decent wage and have affordable rents. I squatted and then got a council flat … this is now like a fairy tale. You are going to have to reclaim your own cities. I believe you will.
- Stop thinking in decades.
Or life goals. Or targets or achievements. What are you, the irritating middle manager of your own life? Your friend got a first-class degree and a knobhead of a boyfriend. So what? Find your people. You will know them by instinct. Your people will not judge you. They will mostly tell you stupid jokes and bring round a takeaway.
- Understand that it is entirely OK to not like what everyone else likes.
Go your own way.
- Have a baby.
You are young enough for it not to be a big deal. Though it’s the biggest deal in the world. Make the baby portable so you can carry on as normal.
- Have at least one vile/heart breaking relationship.
We all do it. You will hurt for a long time afterwards but you will learn three things: that you can be completely wrong; that you can survive; and that you can leave.
- Do stuff that no one older than you understands.
I don’t know what that is, obviously – I just hope it doesn’t kill you.
- Don’t couple up because your friends have.
What are you, 35? Do you want to discuss conveyancing over sea bass? No! Even at my age I would rather go to a dinner party at Dignitas.
- Don’t dread your 30s.
Not much is different except you will be bombarded with dumb baby questions. If your biological clock is ticking, flush it down the loo or just do the deed.
- Don’t forget your parents were in their 20s once too!