1. Staying out til 4 a.m. on a Tuesday because all your friends are. It’s pretty much a Law of Going Out that nothing good happens after 2 a.m. At some point you realize you should just go home when the night Gets Weird because you’re better off feeling rested and energized at work instead of like all you want to do is rot under your desk along with your liver fantasizing about when you’ll finally be able to leave and go to Wendy’s.
2. Blowing hundreds or thousands of dollars on tons of clothes you don’t need. Nasty Gal founder Sophie Amorouso says wisely in her book, #GIRLBOSS, your money looks better in your bank account than it does on your feet. After you see enough of your friends blow all their money on frivolous crap, you’ll take major pride in not buying a bunch of stuff for the sake of keeping up with the Kardashians. Contributing 15 percent to your 401(k) and putting money away for buying a home now looks much better than being 32 and having $3k in your savings. At which point your shoe collection will look REAL good.
3. Drugs. The farther away from 20 you get the worse drugs look on you and the people you hang out with. You really start to notice this when you get to your mid- to late twenties and notice how your friends who disappear into bathroom stalls together because they think no one will know they’re still doing blow look absolutely ridiculous in addition to looking much closer to 40 than 20.
4. Putting your family on the back burner. It might seem cool to go to Coachella over your family reunion when you’re in college. But after you’ve seen your or your friends’ parents pass away or get sick you value your family more than any potentially fun twelve hours you can have in a field wearing a fringed cropped vest and fist pumping to Diplo.
5. Buying tons of drinks at the bar. Again, your money looks better in your bank account. Also, you know you can have it with a side of wine you picked up at the store yourself that cost as much as one vodka cranberry that may or may not also have had a thimble of vodka in it from a nightclub.
6. Smoking cigarettes. You’ve realized it doesn’t matter if you only smoke when you drink. Because, oh right, you probably drink a lot and you like your lungs and your health more than smoking for no reason.
7. Watching a ton of crap TV. You look at a screen all day every day. If it’s not your computer it’s your iPhone or your iPad (or pretty soon, your iWatch). Sometimes it’s nice to open a book and get lost in something that doesn’t glow at your eyes and make you feel like your brain is worthless.
8. Using tanning beds. Would you like a side of cancer with your new unnatural skin color? Nope. You’re not invincible and you know it. Hard pass.
9. Letting your parents pay for everything because you are spoiled and don’t want to be not-spoiled. Even if your parents can and are willing to support you through and past college, there’s much greater strength of character in saying no to their handouts, earning your own money, and being a grown-up. Parental handouts aren’t cool, they’re lazy. And no one — not your boss, not your friends — likes Lazies.
10. Avoiding hard work at all costs. There’s a reason they pay you for it and that’s because it isn’t easy or fun or, you know, what you want to spend all your time doing. You can survive on odd jobs for a while, but you eventually come to realize that this lifestyle won’t lead you to the bigger goals you’ve set for yourself (having a family, buying a car, etc.).
11. Focusing on the past instead of your future. Getting your sorority girls together for Thursday “going out night” is cool and all, but life happens and you’ve come to know that when you grow out of going out night, that’s OK. You don’t have to overcompensate by partying desperately on random weeknights. Because you can just replace it with a few of you going over to Leanne’s house for moderately nice Pinot Noir and HBO Go, and this is just as satisfying.
12. Keeping guys in your life for whom arranging a “date” means texting you “wanna hang out” at 1 a.m. You start to wonder who is even up and wondering around in the world wearing an outfit at 1 a.m. much less looking for somewhere that is not their home to be. Because you know the true man of your dreams went home and brushed his teeth (and maybe even flossed too) and is in bed by 1 a.m. because he’s getting up in the morning to do Cross Fit while you’re at power pilates.
13. Having flakey friends who drive you crazy more than they do make your life fun. Eventually you realize that your sanity is more valuable than including them on group texts because you don’t want to be the mean one. The occasional laughs together aren’t worth their insanity-inducing constant brunch cancellations and their insecurity-induced inability to be happy for you when good shit comes your way. Because you’re a woman with your shit together.
14. Comparing yourself to other people. You know that all that really matters is what you do with your life and how you feel about it, not how it stacks up to other people’s lives and choices. Who cares if your friend Stacy is a buyer at Bloomingdale’s who’s training for her third marathon and engaged to a rich dude who bought her a huge/hideous ring? You like your job, hate running, and are dating someone whose favorite restaurant is Shake Shack and makes you laugh and feel joy. You’re #winning even if your hair isn’t spun from the same angel wings as Kate Middleton’s.