Photo by Emily Long
Dear 21-Year-Old Self,
This is a letter from you, eight years in the future. I’m sure you aren’t interested in listening to some ancient 29-year-old right now, probably because you are busy wasting time on AIM, eating your Lean Cuisine, and MySpacing with that loser dude you are dating. You’ll break it off in, like, two more dates, so quit listening to his band’s CD and start studying for your grad school finals.
(I also want to let you know that in about four years you will become an avid fan of Michael Pollan and Lean Cuisine will exist to you no more.)
Anyway, the reason I’m writing you from the future is just to give you a few handy tips as you move forward with the rest of your 20s. And since I know you (I mean, I am you for God’s sake), I thought I’d give you these little tips in a way you can remember.
By the Numbers: A Guide to Your 20s.
25 – Minimum percentage of battery life you should have left on your phone at all times. You never know when you’ll be lost in a random neighborhood in Long Island City, desperately wishing your phone had enough battery to send your friend a pin drop with your location.
1 – Maximum number of Gchat windows you should ever have open while at work. It’s very unimpressive when your boss walks by and you have blinking boxes all over the screen. And, self, you know this now because you are actually someone’s supervisor and IMs flying everywhere makes you think they aren’t busy enough.
2 – Number of days you should wait to accept his friend request. Yes – let him friend YOU.
11 – Hour you should try to be asleep by on the weeknights. You don’t need Botox yet, but some good, solid sleep will help ensure you don’t need it until you are like, really old…like 35 or something.
1 – Number of exes it’s appropriate to create voodoo dolls for. Only one though. Despite the joy it may bring you, making more than one may start to concern others.
30 – Number of minutes you should wait when you want to send your mom a snappy email.
60 – Number of minutes you should wait when you want to send him a snappy email.
24 – Number of hours you should wait when you want to send your boss a snappy email. The moral of this is your mom will love you unconditionally. Your boss will not.
30 – Number of minutes you should walk every day. Unless there’s a Kardashian marathon on. Then it’s a God-given holiday and you don’t even have to brush your teeth if you don’t want to, says God.
7 – Maximum number of alcoholic drinks you should allow yourself to have in a week (written with a glass of wine in hand).
14 – Maximum number of alcoholic drinks you should allow yourself to have during a breakup week.
4 – Minimum number of times you should call your parents each week.
75 – Percentage of the time you should reply to crazy email chains/forwards from your parents. At least they are using the internet, right?
150 – Number of times per week you’re allowed to reference Mean Girls with your friends.
0 – Number of times you are allowed to reference Mean Girls at work. Self, this goes for the Real Housewives, The Hills, etc.
2:1 – Ratio of tabloids to smart people magazines you must adhere to when purchasing reading material at the airport.
3 – Number of friends whose phone numbers you should have memorized.
1 – Minimum number of times you should try to travel outside the country each year.
100 – Percentage you should pay on your credit card balance each month.
0 – Interest percentage you should look for in a credit card if you are not going to follow the rule above.
1,000,000 – Number of times better you will feel when you finally break up with that jerk who was totally wrong for you.
1,000,000,000 – Number of times you will look back on your 21 year old self and think “Why did I wear that, date that, drink that, or do that?”
0 – Number of times you should regret any of it.
Your 29 year old self
P.S. Quit buying cheap clothes because they are cheap. Also, be sure to invest in these quirky, little startups called “Pinterest” and “Instagram.”