Milestones: 10 things you should do before you turn 20

Posted by in Life

My older nephew is starting Junior High in September. It’s a brand new life for him. Soon his voice will change and he won’t be a little boy anymore. Somewhere between 10 and 20, life takes a strange new direction. As a professor in business schools, where some of my students are in their early twenties, I can really see how much of a difference the things you do before you turn 20 can make. In my book…

There are a few things you should do before you turn 20…

  1. Get out of your country: there’s a life outside of your comfort zone. Being introduced to new languages, new cultures, new foods (see point #10) is incredibly mind-opening, and should happen as early in life as possible.
  2. Fall in love and get your heart broken: a young love is total, wild, untamed. You feel like you’ll love the object of your affection for the rest of your life. You cannot imagine a life without that person. Often, it hurts, but it’s passionate and beautiful. Of course, time will heal the wounds but before 20, you don’t need (want?) to know that.
  3. Protest: even if it’s just to get organic food at the school cafeteria (true story, happened in Boulder, CO). Own your desires, make your voice heard.
  4. Read a book: better, read 10 or 20 books… read as many books as you can.
  5. Find a form of creative expression: dance, paint, play music, sing, write… try them all if need be. But let your creative soul express itself. It’s never too early to bring art and creativity in a child’s life.
  6. Vote: granted, for most, this one will only happen toward the end of the spectrum. And it goes back to expressing your opinion and making your voice heard.
  7. Travel without your parents: yes, freedom from parental supervision is great… but, more than that, it’s about learning to provide for yourself. To make decisions in an unfamiliar surrounding. Scary (both for the kid and the parent), but it will make a tremendous difference later in life.
  8. Pull an all-nighter and watch the sunrise: because there’s nothing that will make you feel more alive than witnessing the end of a day and the beginning of a new one. Gives a whole new perspective to life.
  9. Break something: an arm, a leg, a finger… you’ll never be in a better place to heal fast. Ever again. So better do it now.
  10. Eat something crazy: you might not like it, for sure… but how will you know if you don’t try? Once, I had grasshopper tacos… now I know.

What about you?

The possibilities seem endless after you turn 10, and they will only get bigger and better as time goes by. What things do you consider to be a rite of passage into adulthood?

Photo by Crystal Shaw