At what age do you consider yourself an adult? When you finish school? When you have a job? When you have a mortgage? When you’re 18, or 21?
“Adults are only kids grown up, anyway.” – Walt Disney
Nowadays, age is a relatively small indication of how mature and ‘grown up’ we are within the world. While I know 18 year olds who have achieved far more within the adult world, I also know 30 year olds who are yet to make some of the big steps we would consider a route to adulthood. Perhaps being a grown up isn’t down to our age but what we’ve done, what we’ve experienced, and how we think.
I’m about to have my 21st birthday, and although I have achieved some things that I think would define me as an ‘adult’, there’s still a wealth of stuff to do that seem far too grown up for someone like me.
In an attempt to act like a grown up, here is a list of 10 things every 21 year old woman should have sorted in her life, on her way to full-blown adulthood; mortgage and all.
1) Have A Daily Skincare Routine
I’ll start with a relatively easy one – we all have skin. It’s the only skin we’re going to have for the next 50 years. As such, now is the time to start taking care of it. You can’t get away with sleeping in your mascara anymore – except for a Saturday night when bed and a kebab is far more important than face wipes. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but taking off your makeup before you go to bed, investing in a skin cream (my personal one is a Beautiful Skin day cream by No7) and looking after those pores is what’s gonna keep you looking fresh faced during the stresses of adult life.
2) Invest in Professional Makeup
This goes well with the skincare routine. It doesn’t have to be from the beauty counters of Selfridges, but it’s time to ditch the free samples from your magazines and invest in something more rounded. If you have time, visit a make-up desk in John Lewis or Debenhams and get them to make you over in the best products. They’ll show you what works within your budget and you’ll be surprised what deals you can get when selecting a range of new products. A lot of modern foundations have SPF protection in them – extra skincare bonuses – as well as colours that will work for both your sophisticated evenings out, as well as the daily grind in your cosmopolitan offices. Plus, shopping – woop!
3) Proper Footwear
Regrettably, you can’t keep wearing your Converse forever. Again, this isn’t a reason to throw out all your flats in favour of some funeral worthy court shoes, but realising you cannot wear Uggs at all months of the year is the first step to accepting the woman worthy formal wear. Make a trip to Clarkes or Hobbs the Bootmakers (or if you can’t quite make the step to old lady shoes, Schuh do more than mature footwear.. and Converse too) to get some real leather boots, or a pair of staple black heels to rely upon for upcoming interviews or boring business meetings. They’ll go a lot further than those ballet pumps you’ve had since Year 11.
4) Visit a Professional Hairdresser
This plays along the same line as having a skincare routine – your hair is only gonna last so long, so treat that with as much love as you can. Along with your regular conditioners, treatment masks and repair oil, take time for yourself and book regular hairdresser’s appointments. Not only is it good to have a professional cut and make the most of their expensive hair treatments to give your hair a regular boost, boy is it a joyous bit of pampering. Waited on hand and foot, the latest magazines and a cup of coffee is just what you need for an hour or so while someone else brushes the ever recurring knots from your ends. Perfect.
5) Make Regular Doctor’s Appointments
You’ve got a new pain here, or an inappropriate itch there – when you have a job, you’re paying for the NHS, so make sure you make time to get these lumps and bumps checked out and keep that body in tip-top shape. You’re not wasting anybody’s time, it’s not gonna waste your whole day, and yes, you are allowed to take time off work for medical reasons. Also, don’t forget to get involved with CoppaFeel’s ‘Check Em Tuesday’ campaign and regular feel your boobs for anything abnormal. You have a great pair – look after them!
6) Know Your Contraception
Come on ladies, we had this conversation at 15. You’ve had the leaflets and the sexual clinic chats – know your contraception. If you’re happy with condoms, great – be brave enough to walk into Boots and buy them with pride, rather than hiding them under your meal deal. If you favour the pill, make sure you’re into your routine, and keep a reminder on your phone to make sure you don’t miss anything (on a side note, toady’s medicine means we can get away with having months worth of pills with no break – just 3 periods a year, I hear you cry? Oh yes, it’s true!) If you’ve thought about the implant, make a free appointment to get it sorted while we’re young enough to get all this stuff thrown at us. You’re old enough to know better than just pulling out or relying on emergency contraceptive. You don’t want to be coming a parent before you’ve even made it to adulthood.
7) Accept Your Periods
Yes, we all hate them, yes they hurt, and yes they come at the world’s most awkward time. But they’re going to happen every month for the next 25 years, so if you haven’t accepted them by now, get on with it. Have your hot water bottle and your emergency supply of chocolate on hand, a regular stock of tampons on stand by and resist the urge to sit and cry for the week of your period – be one of the women from the adverts and keep enjoying life knowing you’re baby free. Woop!
8) Restrain Your Social Media
From now on, your social media is gonna be the basis of your future jobs and future friendships. Please learn to stop whinging and bitching across the internet. Keep your private Twitter account private, and stop bitching about your workmates on Facebook. Share some happy pictures and keep in contact with those you love, by all means, but know you’re not a teenager anymore, and you can’t get away with listing Candy Crush as your Interests on your CV.
9) Start Saving
Student debt. Loans. Credit cards; It’s all coming. As soon as you get your first pay cheque, split it between your Current and Savings account. It doesn’t have to be much, but if you save £200 a month, that’s £2,500 a year, just in savings. Every little helps and all starts towards building up a house deposit, rent for your first flat, or any other excitements you have planned. Start building up a credit rating by taking some deals on finance, such as new electronics or a car, or direct debit financing such as Contact Lens schemes or phone contracts. By starting now, you’ll have more than a few years of history to help you sustain your busy and expensive adult life.
10) Find What You Wanna Do
It’s totally fine to have no idea of what you want to do in life. It’s also totally fine to be stuck in a gap job while you decide what you want to do in life. But now is a good time to try and start forming an idea of what you want to do for a career. Start investigating into dream jobs, look at job applications and see what skills and experiences are needed, or book onto work experience and skills days to try and find out a little more about your ideal work sector. Read books about your chosen field, build up your LinkedIn contacts and start networking so, when you finally decide to make the leap into your dream job, you’ve got the best foundation and the most stand-out CV to start you in that direction.
These are, of course, silly and superficial things to help towards the great quest to be a grown up – but it’s a good place to start. Enjoy!
Here’s a slightly more meaningful list I found of key attributes that help contribute towards adulthood.