By Ben Branstetter
Sep 3, 2013
1. Floss. Shut up about blood and it getting stuck in your teeth or a general fear of dentistry and just floss.
2. Sell your microwave. You’d be shocked how much healthier you eat when you have to clean a pan after every meal.
3. Apologize to your partner; you know what you did. In the words of Ogden Nash, “When you’re wrong admit. When you’re right, shut up.” Know that every fight is brought on by pride. Don’t debase yourself, but humble yourself.
4. Read poetry. Here’s The Writer’s Almanac which puts an approachable poem up every day, or download The Poetry Foundation’s app, which has an addictive shuffle button.
5. Read books. Don’t blow your money on a Kindle under the premise that it’ll make you read more. Here’s Half.com, where you can find nearly any book you want for under $10. Reread a book you were forced to read in high school and go from there.
6. Drink chamomile tea. It’s good for nearly every part of your body. Stop hoping one more cup of coffee will halt the shaking and you’ll magically end up on the other side of sanity like Buddha during a fast. Drink some calming, honey-laden tea and think for a second.
7. Check your credit score. If you have a credit card or student loans or a Gamestop PowerUp card, you need to check your credit score. Yes, the credit system sucks and The Big Three are a monopolized scheme and Occupy told you its financial slavery, but it exists. I know it’s scary, but unlike your Netflix membership, it’s free and important.
8. Meet your neighbors. Bake something and give it to them. You don’t even have to talk to them; just give them cookies.
9. Learn how to talk to kids. Find a friend or family member with kids and offer to babysit. They aren’t little aliens or monsters; they are just you before Arrested Development. And no matter your gender or orientation, being good with kids is a massive plus in the dating world.
10. Read your local news.
11. Stop visiting 4chan. You’re 23, for god’s sake.
12. Stop pretending you’re sick of something when you seek it out on purpose online. You can willingly ignore Snooki’s baby. Either admit that it interests you or shut up.
13. Listen to NPR. It may not have snarky jokes or flashy graphics, but you’ll learn more in an hour of All Things Considered than in a year of witty headlines.
14. Drive through that area of town everyone tells you not to. Poor people are not hiding in foreign countries; they just shop at a different store than you. Don’t be a tourist, but don’t hit “Detour” on your Garmin when you leave the safety of gentrification.
15. Find an appliance in your home and take it apart, then put it back together. I wouldn’t suggest your computer or Tivo, but maybe your toaster or alarm clock. Realize what goes into the things around you that make your life so easy.
16. Change your own damn oil. Ask your mechanic questions when something goes wrong instead of just handing him the keys and describing the smell. A car is not a Rubik’s cube. It’s fairly simple once you read thisand take some notes. Also, save up for a while and buy an AAA membership. Being stranded blows.
17. Leave 15 minutes early for everything.
18. Get a physical. Most areas will have a free or discount clinic. Stop using Listerine to cure that infection in your ear gauge.
19. Go to bed at a p.m. hour. Watch both a sunset and a sunrise.
20. Try new things sexually. Set some boundaries, but be open to most anything.
21. Stop blaming your parents for telling you you’re special. You now know it’s a lie, but you can only blame yourself for continuing to pretend it’s true.
22. Pick your 10 favorite websites and disable your ad-blocker for them. The internet works because a profit can be made on said ads. It’s worth a banner or pop-up to have the world’s knowledge at your fingertips. Hell, even click on a few.
23. Listen to a whole album. The digital sales market has returned music to the singles-centric model that worked in the 50s and 60s, but even then the best work was the full vision of an artist. Be it Cher Lloyd or Bloc Party, listen to the entire thing and be sucked into their world.
24. Repeat after me: “How am I not myself?”
25. Write something every day. Doesn’t matter if it’s a bitch-fest against your roommate or the philosophical ponderings brought on by an episode of Breaking Bad. Write a review of everything you encounter: sandwiches, intersections, elevator music. Realize that no matter your stature, about 1% of what you write will ever be seen by anyone but you.
26. They’re over there in their English class.
27. Know that New York City is not special. I like Woody Allen and Lena Dunham and Louis CK, too, but moving there will not make you more talented or educated. For every Kerouac, there are 10 guys who used to dream like you wiping their ass with coupon leaflets in Bedford-Stuyvesant. See also: Austin, Portland, San Francisco.
28. Listen to Harvey Danger: If you’re bored, then you’re boring.
29. Remember when lazy was an insult and not an emotion?
30. Remember that you live in this world, not your own, and reality has a way of biting you while your back is turned. It doesn’t play by rules and doesn’t give a shit about your dreams or plans. Be prepared. Don’t panic.
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