22 Things Everyone Should Do Before Turning 22

Don't ask me how it happened, but I somehow had my 22cd birthday yesterday! If someone would've told me that, at 22 years old, I would be living in Mankato, Minnesota and teaching a college class, I would've been shocked. As surprising as the last year has been, though, I've had my share of adventures.

So, to celebrate on the blog, I thought I'd do something a little different this year: share a "birthday bucket list," per se, with some of my favorite moments from 22 years of lovin' and livin'.

22 Things Everyone Should Do Before Turning 22

Whether you're over 22, about to have your 22cd birthday or just want some fun ways to have a more epic life, here are 22 things you should do before you turn 22!

1. Spend at least one weekend without Internet access.

As a blogger, it can be especially challenging to unplug. Once you do it, though, you'll be amazed at how refreshed you feel...and how much more motivated you are to type up another post!

2. Have one dish that you can make without even looking at the recipe.

For me, this dish is definitely my homemade gluten free and vegan granola! I make a big batch every week, and I usually just throw whatever goodies I have on hand into the mix. It always comes out equally delicious!

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

3. Figure out how to read for fun on the regular.

I get it. When I was in undergrad, I rarely ever read books for fun. As a writing major, I already felt like I was reading and writing a ton! Now, as a grad student getting an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, I still feel like words rule my day...recently, though, I've become addicted to audiobooks. Now, I can enjoy my psychological thrillers without having to have time to sit still and actually read.

The moral of the story? Keep experimenting with book genres and formats until you find the right mix that works for you!

4. Make a big mistake...and move past it.

So, maybe making a big mistake shouldn't be an actual goal of yours. But, in your early 20s (heck - any age, really), making mistakes is guaranteed to happen. So accept the situation, forgive yourself and learn how to move on. This is one skill you'll use time and time again.

5. Take a long walk with a good friend.

If you're struggling to balance all the demands of a well-rounded life, try combining your social life and your workout schedule. You'll be surprised how refreshing a good walk with a good friend can be - physically and emotionally.

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

6. Say "yes" to a work opportunity that scares the heck out of you.

Remember those pre teen growing pains? The sad part is that you don't really grow out of them. When I worked my first full-time job, I was given the chance to travel to Los Angeles and teach a class to the other Entity interns. It was a long, stressful and chaotic day...but it also showed me that I could roll with the punches a lot better than I thought!

7. Do something that makes you feel like a kid again.

Go to Disneyland. Dress up in the most ridiculous Halloween costumes you can think of and go Trick-or-Treating. Ride a seesaw while rocking a homecoming gown (been there, happily done that). The options are endless.

8. Go on at least one memorable girl's night.

My 21st birthday will always be particularly special thanks to the celebratory girl's night out my roomies and I enjoyed a month later. True Foods Kitchen + my first taste of alcohol (which is not really my thing, it turns out) + a random late-night visit to CVS. Lots of good food and even more good laughs!

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

9. Call a loved one who you don't talk to enough.

I'm definitely guilty of not talking to my extended family as much as I probably should...but those fifteen minutes spent catching up with grandma are always so worth it.

10. Take a short trip to Vegas!

Cliche? Yes. Still worth doing? Also yes.

11. Try a new workout with no expectations of how well you'll do it or how much you'll enjoy it.

No, I'm not saying you should sign up for a marathon and YOLO it, even if you've only run a 5K. However, there's something super rewarding about experimenting with a new workout routine without any preset beliefs at how "awesome" you'll be at it. Case in point: trying rock climbing with my dad turned out to be one of the major highlights of my summer. You'll never know what you're missing out on until you try!

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

12. Eat a huge, delicious, arguably unhealthy meal - and have zero guilt whatsoever.

I like eating healthy. I like how good healthy eating can make me feel. But, sometimes, a girl just needs a big, juicy burger (or whatever other comfort food is calling your name). Eat it, enjoy it and keep kicking life's booty!

13. Purchase at least one "power" outfit. 

Whether it's a tailored suit, a sweet pair of tight jeans or just your favorite comfy sweater, find an outfit that makes you feel like superwoman. Consider the day majorly slayed!

14. Watch the sunset...and I mean, really watch it.

You could say that going to college at PLNU desensitized me to sunsets. When you're used to seeing glorious colors of pink and blue and gold paint the sky every night, it can be easy to take that beauty for granted. But those nights that I sat out on the cliffs with friends, doing nothing but talking and watching the sun sink into the ocean, are some of my fondest memories.

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

15. Go to a social event that scares you and promise to stay at least 20 minutes.

I'm not a natural extrovert. When I'm with people I know well, I'm goofy, sassy and a little bit smart-assy (as my best friend puts it). Meeting new people, though, is challenging. So, I try to tell myself that if I go to an event and am just not feeling it, I can leave after 20 minutes. A lot of the time, though, I end up enjoying myself so much, I stay for a few hours.

16. Don't wear any makeup for at least a week.

From the time I graduated college in December of 2016 to when I started grad school on July 31, 2017, I wore makeup for two days during my college graduation in January. Sure, my self esteem gets a little boost when I cover spots or tired eyes with a swipe of foundation. But learning to accept - if not love - my own skin is even more rewarding.

17. Take yourself out on a date.

Who says you need to have a significant other to go on a date? Treat yourself to an epic me-date by going to your favorite restaurant, enjoying a long walk on a gorgeous day or even just spending the whole day relaxing with Netflix!

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

18. Find a way to volunteer that you actually enjoy.

It's easy to say that you don't have time to volunteer. My last semester of college, though, I spent a few Saturdays a month visiting a local assisted living home. While every visit wasn't great, there were a few conversations that still stick out in my mind. I'm going to try volunteering at an assisted living home in Mankato, this time with a writing workshop. I start two days after this post goes live, so we'll see what happens!

19. Go on an epic road trip. 

If you've never traveled across the United States (or even just visited a few new states) in a car stuffed with a few of your favorite people, fix that error ASAP! Road trips can definitely be challenging and it's easy to get a little stir-crazy. But is there really a more "classically American" way to see the U.S. than through a car window?

20. Pay a little extra to buy that exotic food you've always wanted to try.

I'll admit it - dragonfruit actually isn't that flavorful. However, you do also eat with your eyes...and it's one cool looking fruit.

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

21. Stay up way too late doing, well, nothing!

Some of the other college memories that stick out the most in my mind? The nights where I went to bed waaaaay too late because I spent too much time talking about random things with my friends. The sleep deprivation was 100% worth it!

22. Dare to say "yes" to opportunities that scare you - even if you never imagined ending up where they lead.

Since I grew up as a marine brat, I'm used to not knowing where I'd be living a few years in the future. Yet, I still sometimes wake up in the middle of the night, disoriented and wondering, "How the heck did I end up living in Mankato, Minnesota?!?" And - to be brutally honest - the first month of living on my own in an entirely new state hasn't been easy.

22 Things Every Woman Should Do Before Turning 22

But as I celebrate another year of adventures, surprises and delicious food, I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the chance to grow, not only as a writer and teacher, but also as a person. I'm proud of the walls I've already run into and scaled. Even more importantly, I'm excited to see what 22 years old has in store for me.

Let the next chapter of Casey's adventure begin!


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