6 Simple Tips to Help You Become A Semi-Adult

(originally posted on postgradproblems.com) As you progress further and deeper into this game of life, it can be tempting to take the easy way out in most situations. We decide that life is hard and working full-time sucks, so you deserve the little breaks you constantly give yourself. You expend all of your energy during the day in front of a computer, so why shouldn’t you be a lazy sack of potato chips come day’s end?

This is child’s play. At some point in this venture of young adulthood, you need to sack up. This is life now. No rehearsals. You’re going to make infinity more mistakes until you die, but before that, it’s time to get serious about upping your daily life game on the reg. Here’s how.

Read before bed. Don’t watch TV.

As a single girl who lives alone and places Seth MacFarlane and Jerry/Larry’s comedic genius on a pedestal, I’ve spent the last four years letting sounds of their television shows lull me to sleep. In fact, most mornings when I awake and fire up my now-dead computer, Peter’s voice is laughing at me or George is threatening to bring a liter of Pepsi to a dinner party. This isn’t a healthy way to fall asleep and wake up, guys. Our souls and brain cells are already suffering enough throughout the day, as we stare at Excel spreadsheets and try to picture coworkers having sex. The least we can do for ourselves is pick up a damn book, invest in a small yet efficient book light, and indulge in some knowledge before bed. You’ll fall asleep faster, calmer, and more wound down.

Learn how to cook a damn meal.

I dated a guy not too long ago who literally does not eat one meal at home. Sure, it’s normal to dine out a lot with someone when you’re dating him or her, but any night we weren’t together, these habits did not cease. Every meal he consumed was takeout in some form or fashion. This isn’t okay, y’all. If you’re past the age of 22 or 23, you should know how a kitchen functions and be able to put together a handful of decent meals for yourself, from scratch. Pots and pans are your friends, not your enemies. I’m not saying you should know how to make a bowl of pasta–you can do better than that. You come out of the womb knowing how to cook pasta al dente. I’m talking about learning how to make a plate of quinoa boiled in chicken broth with a side of lightly steamed broccolini and a nice piece of seasoned chicken. We’re at an age now where laughing off your joke of a dinner (cereal or popcorn or beer) isn’t funny anymore. It’s sad. Make your grocery visits smart and efficient. Also, steal a 24-case of water bottles by throwing it on that secret bottom shelf of your cart. What? No, I’ve never done that.

Read the news.

Not in full. I’m not that overzealous. But at least download a few news apps on your smartphone and pull them up each and every morning over a cup of your homemade, freshly brewed coffee–or just scroll through them in bed with one eye closed to focus your sight better. Either way, no longer is it acceptable to not be in the know of current events. Install Newsweek, CNN, USA Today, Huffington Post or all of them, and allow them to send you push notifications. Without the push, you won’t look–you and I both know that. Let them into your daily routine with their unpredictable yet informative blurbs about what’s happening in the world. Allow them to pop-up at random, perhaps when you’re by the water machine, so you can exclaim, “Oh, wow! More earthquakes in Mexico City. Shame.” Then nonchalantly walk away, back to your desk, knowing you just broke some news to your uninformed coworkers. Just don’t be dumb.

Brew your own morning coffee.

Are you seriously still relying on drive-thru or Starbucks coffee for your morning sustenance? Come on, bro. You’re better than that. As a lady, I will tell you that knowing a man not only owns but can operate his very own coffee machine is something to write home about. Or least write texts to friends about. There’s nothing better than spending the night at a guy’s place only to wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Then to drink said coffee in bed together and make out with each other’s coffee-breath faces? Yes. But more than that, it’s time-saving and money-saving to brew your own brew every morning. Sure, you can treat yourself to an extra hot, extra shot, double down, turn around, Vanilla latte every once and a while, but there is serious joy in getting ready for your morning commute to the smell of joe in your kitchen. P.S., 2 TBSP per cup.

Get your car washed regularly.

You know that tinge of excitement you feel below the belt when your gas tank is filled? That feeling of empowerment, of knowing you are now able to drive anywhere you want without the fear of ending up on the side of the road from being lazy and poor and dumb? Take that feeling and multiply it by five when you take it a step further and get your car scrubbed down. Yeah, that sparkling clean automobile that’s ready to take on whatever adventures you’re conquering today (the liquor store, Walgreens, probably World Market to grab a couple of doodads you don’t need)–that’s YOURS. Own that carwash, kiddo. But also make sure you have a couple bucks to slip to the car washers so you don’t look like a total and complete asshole.

Do some sort of exercise.

I know, I know. Annoying as hell, but it’s true. Once you hit 25, every morsel of food you shove into your hole almost automatically appears on your thighs or stomach or arms or chest or butt or face. Finding time to go the gym is the worst. You’re too overworked to want to go directly after your workday, which means you’re too tired to get up early in the morning and get it out of the way. But guys, we have to make time. Whatever time you can commit to it, do it. Do an at-home something. Go to the gym and power walk for 20 minutes. Sprint around your neighborhood and finish it up with crunches in your living room. Something! Anything! Because everything we eat just sits there. Plus, you know all those weird and gross health ailments your parents and grandparents and distant uncles are dealing with right now? That will be you if you don’t combat it now. Find an accountability buddy and get to it. Be a healthy, semi-less fat version of yourself in 2014.

Do all these things, then reward yourself with a Starbucks coffee, a takeout Thai meal, a celebrity gossip binge session, and a Netflix bender in bed.

You’ve earned it.