A 20-something’s bucket list

Sophie Oehler, Staff Writer

When I was in highschool, my best friend and I saw the film “How To Be Single” in theatres.

It’s a bizarre movie. Dakota Johnson plays a paralegal at a law firm who’s just broken up with her long term college boyfriend in order to “find herself” as an independent woman. 

Which is a respectable choice, until she meets Rebel Wilson’s character, who makes the girl your mom called “a bad influence” look down right tame. 

Together they take the New York City dating scene by storm, until Dakota decides she doesn’t want to have sex with her weird, ginger bartender friend, nor does she want to go back to her ex, but rather she wants to follow her life long dream of hiking the Grand Canyon. 

Though there is not much romance to be seen, in true romantic comedy form, it depicts life in your twenties as raucous, over saturated, full of hookups and breakups and mess ups. In the faces of Johnson and Wilson, our second decade of life seems glamorous, quirky, romanticized. 

I recently re-stumbled across the film a week or so ago while scrolling through Hulu. Watching it now, in the midst of online school and waiting to reach the front of the vaccine line, makes the quirky chaos seem all the more unrealistic. 

So for those of us who don’t have fire escapes to contemplate the world from, here is a realistic list of all the things we will do in our 20s. Comment below how many you’ve got. 

A Checklist For Your 20s

  • Compose an email to your professor but spend fifteen minutes agonizing over how to address them. Check the syllabus to see if they’ve specified how they would like to be titled. They haven’t. Choose, “Hi Professor,” and worry you’ve crossed a line when they respond “Ok.” followed by “sent from my iPhone.” 

  • Download dating apps because apparently, “that’s how people are meeting these days.” Realize you don’t have any good photos of yourself. Wonder if you were bigger in some places or smaller in others if people would like you more. Worry that you’re not interesting or funny or attractive enough to meet anyone real. 

  • Read the same article by Harvard Business Review about how to write a cover letter. Write the cover letter and stew in your own self doubt. 

  • Go to the grocery store for the third time that week and forget the eggs. Go back the next day and spend twenty dollars more than you had anticipated. Contemplate your spending habits in the parking lot. 

  • Have a dinner party with your friends. One of you is significantly better at cooking than the others. They’re the chef and the rest of you dance around them, gossip, make jokes that are only funny in that moment. 

  • Go out at 12 am and walk around the streets with your friends because there is no one in the house to tell you not to.

  • Watch your Instagram followers get into relationships, engaged, pregnant. Try to remember the last time you went on a date. Wonder if flirting has changed since then. 

  • Eat Ben and Jerry’s for dinner because you can.

  • Apply for your dream job and hype yourself up in the mirror before your interview. Celebrate big if you get it and remind yourself there will be other opportunities if you don’t. 

  • Call your father because the radiator is broken. Call your mother because your heart is broken. Or vice versa. 

  • Form your opinions and discuss them with people who agree and people who don’t. Find new perspectives. Let yourself be wrong and try not to gloat when you are right. 

  • Call the doctor, the dentist, the insurance company and the phone company and the internet company and the mechanic. Remind yourself to ask your parents what the carburetor does and how to get the prescriptions company to take you seriously. 

  • Take a bath, do a face mask, dye your hair to relieve stress. Finally admit you need a therapist when it doesn’t work. 

  • Accept an apology even though you don’t mean to, because you’re worried that fighting it would only make the situation worse. Force yourself to have the hard conversation anyways. 

  • Learn lessons the hard way, but remember that it makes you wiser in the end. Do things that will be a good story later, but embarrassing in the moment. Put yourself in uncomfortable or foreign situations. You’ll learn something about yourself regardless of the outcome. 

  • Make mistakes and say things maybe you shouldn’t have. Remind yourself that this is not the first time you have messed up and it certainly won’t be the last. You are not perfect and you never will be and that’s okay. 

  • Cry on your drive home from work. 

  • Cry with your camera turned off on Zoom.

  • Cry on your best friend’s couch. 

  • Cry in the shower listening to Lewis Capaldi. Feel silly afterwards. Remember it’s always okay to cry, but there are more reasons to smile. 

  • Feel as though time is running out to achieve everything, see the world, meet everyone you’re supposed to meet. But it isn’t. In fact your hourglass has only just turned over. Slow down. 

  • Watch stupid movies about “life as it should be.” Compare yourself to the main character and their friends and their job and their life path.

  • Remember that you are not Dakota Johnson. You’re you, and your life is more vibrant, more complex, more beautifully flawed than anything James L Brooks can create.