I just turned 19 on Tuesday and it was literally one of the best days ever. I spent the day with at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. We learned about the evolution of the world and the science of literally everything. I grew up loving science so it was perfect for me. We even got to enjoy the live butterfly pavilion and it was just the perfect day.

Even though I was having so much fun, I took the time to reflect on the fact that this is my last year being a teenager and I have no choice but to start putting forth the effort into adult things. So, I decided to make a list of things I want to have done or been working towards by the time my 20th birthday rolls around. This list will include personal goals, as well as financial and academic ones. Enjoy!

1. Have your own bank account.

This one is pretty basic, especially if you have/have had a job before. But it’s important to have your own bank account. I got my first one right before I left for college and chose to have it as a joint account with my mom in case of emergencies. Plus it’s so much safer than walking around with cash 24/7.

2. Pay at least one bill.

Even if it’s just Netflix, it’s really important as a budding adult to know the responsibility of knowing how to pay bills. At the start of my freshman year, my dad tasked me with the responsibility of paying my own phone bill, which scared me at first but now I’ve gotten the hang of it and it has really helped me in terms of being responsible. Y’all won’t catch me out here 20 something without a thing to my name lol.

3. Save your money, sis.

“Do I really need these wings?” seems to a question I’m constantly asking myself lol. Saving money is something I’ve never been particularly great at but whether you’re saving up for a new laptop or for your future home or even just some cute shoes, learning to save your money is essential. One of the easiest ways to save is to not know you’re saving! Check with your bank to see if they can set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings account. You could also use the Digit app (they just added a monthly fee for their services), they automatically transfer money from your account to the app where you’ll have to use Touch ID or your password to withdraw it.

4. Eat your fruits and veggies.

5. Speak up!

True Life: I Have Social Anxiety. I constantly over think simple situations and a lot of my embarrassing moments could’ve been easily avoided if I had just spoken up. I really want to change that during this next year of my life. I’m a pretty great person and I want more people to experience that (really confident or just cocky?). I hate the feeling of “I should’ve” after not speaking up because just imagine the opportunities that would’ve been presented to me if I had spoken. Closed mouths don’t get fed, insert black girl shrugging emoji.

6. Start building credit.

Building credit is essential! Most people usually wait until the last minute to worry about their credit and tend to it. It is so much easier and smarter to start now as a teen than to wait until you’re trying to buy a house. Please do as much research as possible. Literally, worry about your life and your career because your credit can make or break it.

7. Exercise more!

Even if it’s just little exercises while getting dressed, like calf raises while brushing your teeth or lunges instead of walking across the room, they can be effective. You can also look up workouts for your favorite TV shows, it’s like drinking games except you’re doing squats instead of taking shots.

8. Read more.

9. Get out of your comfort zone.

I had Thai food the first time earlier this week and I fell in love with it. I really want to continue tasting new foods and going to new places. You should too! Go to a new restaurant or order something different from your favorite restaurant. Go on a date with someone who isn’t your type. Explore a different part of your city/town.

10. Work on your craft.

“Have your name out there & be known in your field. You ain’t gotta be Beyonce with it, but the girls should be familiar with you.” — fly guy ny (@vacantvoice on Twitter)

11. Pay attention to the news.

12. Network!

Networking is suuuuuper important in finding a career and getting involved in your community and on campus. If you don’t already have one, take the time to make a LinkedIn page and some connections.

13. Start Scheduling Your Own Doctor/Dentist Appointments.

If you’re already doing this then you’re a true grown-up lol.

14. Learn to Cook.

Although I’m not allowed to be cooking in my dorm, I did get to learn to make an omelet over the summer and even cooked every once in a while. Whether it’s just following a recipe or throwing down in the kitchen, this will definitely come in handy once you’re living on your own.

15. Bring in some sort of income.

Whether you have a job or a side hustle, bringing home the bacon is a basic but essential form of adulting and is the foundation for the rest of your life.

16. Take Your Vitamins.

Even though you should be eating at least one item of every food group, you might not be getting the exact amount of each vitamin needed for your body.

17. Travel!

I have never been outside of the United States and I don’t even own a passport but I want to change that this year. I’m getting out of this country, whether it’s during winter break, spring break, or summer break, I’m going to explore all of the beautiful places on this earth.

18. Check Who You Surround Yourself With

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really tried to stay away from toxic friendships. They are honestly so draining and they aren’t helping your growth in any way possible. If you happen to find a friend that is toxic then *scissors emoji*. Take some time to really evaluate those in your life and as the tweet above says, it’s important to hang with those who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel.

19. Find a Mentor!

Mentors are essential! I have been looking for one since I’ve changed my major and haven’t had much luck yet so if you’re a black woman & speech-language pathologist then contact me lol! Mentors can really help you plan for life but also be there for you as a mother/father figure or even as a sibling. If you’re worried about your career field your mentor can ease your nerves or really prepare you for the roadblocks that’ll be presented to you in the future.

20. Be a Little Selfish

It’s important to care about others but it’s also really important to put yourself first. Whether your version of self-care is a spa day, taking a mental health day, or just saying no to all distractions and just focusing on yourself, it’s really important to take that time for yourself at least once a month.

Each of the things listed is a task I have completed or are trying to complete within the next year. I believe that this next year of my life is all about growth and you can’t be who you want to be and who you used to be at the same time. I hope that you can use this list as an outline for your own 20 before 20 lists. What do you think should be added? Let me know in the comments!


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