As I reflect back on my youth, I cannot help but think of all the different experiences I’ve had: The good, the bad and the ugly. The good is a picture book of memories, comfortably accompanied by silent smiles and fuzzy feelings of friends, family and familiarities. The bad is a series of self-help books, ready to be of assistance when I am in desperate need of inner peace and guidance. The ugly is a box of regret that’s been chained and locked, prayed over to be forever forgotten.
As I reflect, I wonder what advice I would give the 24-year-old me. Which exciting adventures would I inspire her to pursue with vigor and vibrancy? Which people would I encourage her to meet? Which giant leaps would I motivate her to jump? No matter what, I would tell her to just be herself. In the end, yourself is all you know how to be, and that’s the best you out there.
So in light of the good, the bad, and the ugly af, the following is your complete list of 25 things to do before you turn the big two-five:
1. Don’t compromise on your education. In the words of the late great Nelson Mandela, “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add a literate tongue and pen, you have something very special.” If 25 is peeking at you and you won’t graduate before then, register for a short course. Something you can build on in the years to come.
2. See your city and meet the people you share it with. You would be surprised as to how many hidden gems you have right under your nose.
3. Make friends everywhere. You never know when you might need to dial that number for someone to help you out. And similarly, they will need you one day too.
4. Invest time in physical activity. Something you can get excited about for the rest of your life. Like running, yoga, or fitness training. Play an indoor sport and join a team. Being part of something bigger than yourself is good for the spirit.
5. Read one life-changing book a year. It will teach you great life-hacks but also give you a winnable goal.
6. Live on your own. This is something everyone should experience at least once in their lives. It will teach you discipline, independence, and confidence as you realize you really can depend on yourself.
7. Invest in yourself. Open a 30-day investment/savings account and commit to paying a portion of your salary over every single month. Don’t stop this after you turn 25.
8. Travel—to foreign countries, states, even cities. See as much of this world as you possibly can.
9. Make lasting friendships in those foreign countries. Maybe even throw it back and strike up a pen pal relationship!
10. Actively and consciously make an attempt to find your passion. Try different things to figure out what you are good at. If you love your work, you’ll work for fun and earn a living while doing it.
11. Believe in yourself and take that chance. Remember, the people who did it before you were just as scared.
12. Learn a foreign language or two, or three. The world is far too big and complex for you to only know how to speak your native tongue.
13. Build your confidence. You need it just as much as you need air.
14. Learn to play one instrument, at the very least. This will enhance your life more than you know, plus it’s a neat party trick to keep up your sleeve.
15. Adopt an animal in need. Not only will you be taking a stand against the trading of animals for domestication, you will also give at least one broken heart a chance at a better life.
16. Book a photo shoot for yourself. Print them out and hang them on the wall to remind yourself that you are enough and worth taking care of.
17. Grow an herb garden. Eating your own produce is extremely satisfying, and healthy af.
18. Enter competitions that challenge your physical and mental abilities. For a start, join a local trivia night.
19. Do a holistic body scan. Prevention is 100% better than cure.
20. Write a will. The topic is eerie and nobody wants to do this, but the sooner you get it out of the way, the less eerie it becomes. It’s just a piece of paper—don’t let it freak you out. It will surprisingly give you peace of mind.
21. Research various methods to become debt free/financially independent. If you can be debt free and financially independent at 25, the world is your oyster. I mean, the world is totally your oyster either way, but imagine an oyster where you don’t owe money. That’s the dream.
22. Watch all the movies listed on Business Insider’s Top 50 Best Movies of All Time.
23. Tell your loved ones you love them. Consistently. Spend enough time with all the people you care about. It sounds like such a cliché, but life really is too short. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
24. Take a VINAcation with your vinas. Those are memories that last a lifetime.
25. Last, but certainly not least: live your best life!! Whatever that means to you, do the thing that makes you happy. Stop worrying, stressing, or even thinking about what everyone else defines as bliss—and find your own!
Number 26: download the Hey! VINA app and start swiping to meet the vinas that will help you cross off everything from your list!