21 Things to Be Doing by the Time You’re 21
21 Things to Be Doing by the Time You’re 21

21 Things to Be Doing by the Time You’re 21

It’s time to grow up and finally teach yourself how to cook and manage your finances, and it couldn’t hurt to reduce random hook ups, right?
October 31, 2016
8 mins read

The big 2-1. It seemed like it would take forever, but you made it. You’re now legally allowed to drink, and the first thing you want to do is go crazy at the bars, right? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying some time out on the town, but 21 also comes with the label of being a full-grown adult.

Being a grown-up (or at least acting like it) isn’t as hard as you would think. Check out the list of 21 things you can do to be a badass 21-year-old.

1. Mature Drinking

I get it, you just turned 21 and want to get wasted at the bars and play drinking games. Take some time out to practice moderation, and for god’s sake ditch the Four Lokos and Burnett’s. Learn how you like your martinis and have good taste in alcohol.

2. Cook

You don’t have to be Chef Ramsey, but being able to whip up five or six gourmet meals saves money and is more nutritious. Cooking can even get you laid if you do it right, so stop hitting up the dollar menu every day. Check out these easy air fryer recipes for college students and reduce your calorie intake.

21 Things to Be Doing by the Time You’re 21
Image via NPR

3. Balance Your Diet

This pairs well with cooking, by the time you’re 21 you should have your overall health in mind. Put good things in your body to get good things out. It is time to make healthy food choices, especially when it comes to breakfast food.

4. Keep Your House Clean

Your room is still fair game (within reason). But don’t leave the dishes in the sink for a week or only take out the trash once it begins to smell. A clean house makes a better impression.

If you haven’t cleaned out your closet in a while, we recommend doing so, and turning old clothes into cash!

5. Choose Your Friends Wisely

You’re defined by the company you keep. The people you spend your time with have subtle ways of impacting your attitude. Choose goal-oriented friends who you have things in common with, not just who you like partying with. Be careful not to miss these important signs that you’re in a toxic friendship.

6. Converse Like an Adult

Speak clearly, give a firm handshake, and make eye contact. People will instantly respect you more.

7. Buy Some Nice Clothes

As a grown-up, you’ll start being expected to dress for the occasion more, even just for going to a nice restaurant or a wedding. Invest in some buttons, collars, and classy kicks; they’re good for your image.

If you’re shopping for clothes on a budget, check out this list of 6 online clothing stores you don’t wanna miss out on!

21 Things to Be Doing by the Time You’re 21
Image via The Balance

8. Read Some Books

Okay, maybe I’m slightly biased on this one. I know not everyone enjoys books as much as I do, but reading really is the ultimate in neural sustenance. It engages so much of your brain at once, plus it improves your vocabulary and speech patterns. Books can suit your every mood, whether you want to laugh, cry, or simply want to get into a good mystery.

9. Stop Sleeping Until Noon Everyday

Everyone loves to sleep in from time to time and get caught up, but you can burn some serious daylight by doing it too much.

10. Hold Down a Job

Employers love to see longevity, so sticking with a job is a fantastic resume builder. Plus, you’ll make more money in the form of raises and won’t be having to learn new stuff all the time.

If you’re currently unemployed and looking for a job, you might want to learn how to prepare for a job interview and remember, job rejection is not the end of the world!

11. Have a Resume

Any employer would rather read a clean, typed-up resume than an application you handwrote with a borrowed pen. Spend a little time making it look professional and fit it onto one page if you can. Your resume is one of the first impressions potential employers have of you, make a good one.

Here are some useful tips on beefing up your resume.

12. Edit Your Social Media

Most people do this already. We’ve all been tagged in some not-so-flattering pictures and had to remove them. But you also probably don’t want to world to know that you actually liked Nickelback in high school.

Besides posting selfies, you can also use social media to set the foundation for your future by networking.

13. Get Your Finances Together

Make a plan for your regular monthly expenses, this gives you a realistic expectation for how much money you’ll be able to spend elsewhere. Keep a close eye on your bank account too; overdraft fees are insane.

If you’re unsure about managing finances, explore these useful tips on managing finances and investments as a student.

14. Build Some Credit

The first line of credit I ever opened was a Discount Tire card. It was an easy card to get through their six-month no-interest program, and I was careful to pay it off quickly. This can be done with many large purchases like TVs or home appliances, and it’s perfect for those with no credit history (pay it off on time though to avoid the outrageous interest rates).

You might also want to explore no credit check loans, but make sure you’re careful and know how to choose the right lender.

15. Make Your Own Medical Appointments

By 21, your parents probably haven’t been dragging you to the dentist for a while. Nobody really likes the dentist, but your smile will thank you for getting an annual check-up. Same for the doctor, go at least once a year whether you’re sick or not. If you’re sexually active it’s probably a good idea to include a full STD screening in that visit as well, just to be safe.

16. Be Tentative of Random Hook Ups

One-night stands are commonplace in the lives of many 21-year-olds. Aside from the health risks, drunken sex with a stranger is often unfulfilling and can make for some awkward situations the next day. Develop some standards and sleep with people you actually have chemistry with, it’s more satisfying anyway.

21 Things to Be Doing by the Time You’re 21
Image via Slate

17. Home Maintenance

You don’t need to call your landlord every time a light bulb burns out; it takes about five seconds to change it. Same for your air filter or clogged garbage disposal. These all have easy solutions that require zero prior knowledge. If you have questions, the Pro Desk at your local hardware store is a great place to start.

18. Try a New Hobby

Learn to play an instrument, join your company softball team or even take up a new language. Expose yourself to unfamiliarity as much as possible in your 20s.

19. Stop Trying to Win Everyone’s Approval

Focus on what you want for your life. The friends you should be choosing wisely are among those who approve of your motives and accomplishments. Those who don’t approve are the ones you probably don’t need around anyway.

20. Get a Passport

And use it at least once before you turn 22, even if it’s just a quick trip down to Mexico. It may be arbitrary, but getting your passport stamped is a good feeling.

21. Have Your Own Transportation

Last but not least the important thing to do at age 21 is to have your own transport. Maybe you can’t afford a car or you don’t like driving, and that’s understandable. However, full-grown adults don’t bum rides to and from work/school every day. A full-grown adult would either get a bike, learn the bus schedule or call an Uber.

Aaron Lynch, Front Range Community College

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Aaron Lynch

Front Range Community College


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