18 Things You Shouldn't Put Off Doing If You're 18
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Politics and Activism

18 Things You Shouldn't Put Off Doing If You're 18

So you're an adult...now what? Here's a collection of must-dos.

18 Things You Shouldn't Put Off Doing If You're 18

1. Think about the “big questions” of life.

Yes, it may seem cliched, and no, you're probably not going to get everything figured out (nor should you). But what do you believe? Is there a God? Does life have any ultimate meaning, and if so, what? Do we have free will? Now is the time to think about how you've been raised and decide for yourself.

2. Register (and research) to vote.

Don't you want a say in how things are run? Good. Time to exercise your new constitutional right; do your research on the candidates and then vote for what you believe in.

3. Apply to college (and filing the FAFSA, etc.).

Many college deadlines are rolling, but many are firm, and those deadlines will have a way of sneaking up on you while you're juggling senior year academics and activities. As for the FAFSA, financial aid is first come, first served. Don't delay.

4. Reevaluate your relationship (and/or date seriously).

Marrying young isn't as fashionable in most circles as it used to be, and there are good reasons for putting off tying the knot--but hear me out. If you're waiting for the "perfect" time to marry, a time when your entire life is going to be completely in order and you feel 110% prepared, chances are it will never happen. And, if you know you want kids, it's best to start sooner rather than later if you can; like it or not, the biological clock is ticking.

5. Register as an organ donor.

It's not fun to think about, but accidents do happen--and there are thousands of people dying for lack of a healthy organ. As a young person, even if your life is cut short, being an organ donor is one of the best ways to make sure another person's life can go on. You can't take it with you, right?

6. Read the classics.

You may not believe me, but you can probably carve out more free time now than you can as a working adult. To be an educated, well-rounded person, it's important to know your Shakespeare from your Steinbeck. Yeah, the texts might be dry, but there are all sorts of handy guides these days to help you understand the dated language. Engage with the ideas, and I bet you'll learn a thing or two.

7. Learn to do your own laundry.

As far as basic survival skills go, it's not hard--promise!

8. Get a pelvic exam (if you’re female).

It's not exactly the most enjoyable thing in the world, but a pelvic exam is an important way to check that everything's normal down there--particularly if you're already sexually active or plan to be.

9. Save money.

If you have a job, and if you can, starting a savings account is one of the best things you can do to be (and remain) financially secure throughout your lifetime.

10. Quit procrastinating.

You don't want to put this one off! All joking aside, it gets harder and harder to survive pulling all-nighters and missing deadlines once you've got a career, bills, and/or a family to manage. Find whatever works for you in terms of staying ahead of your workload, and stick to it.

11. Eat right.

It's true that youth is the time when you can eat whatever you want and get away with it, and it's completely fine to live a little and enjoy yourself. But habits don't change overnight, and one day, most of us can no longer afford to pig out on potato chips unless we want to pile on the pounds as well. Don't let weight gain sneak up on you; start forming healthy habits.

12. Get enough sleep.

Easier said than done, but someone's gotta say it. Your body will thank you later.

13. Build a good, healthy relationship with your family.

Unfortunately, for many reasons, this isn't feasible for everyone. But where possible, make an effort to be peaceable with your relatives. It's easy to just focus on moving out and going your own way, but don't forget where you came from.

14. Learn to cook.

Gotta eat to live, right? It's almost always cheaper and healthier to prepare your own meals--preferably with real ingredients--so start learning while it's not crucial and you still have family guidance readily available.

15. Steward your resources wisely.

You’re going to be paying for water, electricity, etc. in the not-so-far-away future, so you might want to wean off of 30-minute showers pretty soon. Plus, it's good for the planet.

16. Take advantage of travel/study abroad opportunities.

Your college years may well be your best chance to have some truly unique (and relatively affordable) travel experiences. It's worth looking into.

17. Try out a new look (hairstyle, etc.)

You’re only young once!

18. Love well.

Too many of us get caught in unhealthy relationships that damage our sense of self and bring out the worst in us. Everyone makes mistakes, and that's okay. But don't keep staying in an abusive relationship (whether that relationship is with yourself or with someone else). And be wise, but never stop loving others and yourself.

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