When I was 13, I remember thinking that 25 was old. I mean, it’s only five years away from 30, and only moms and dads turned 30! Now that I’m 25, I can’t believe how fast the last 12 years flew by.
The years seem to pass slowly when you’re a teenager and even when you’re in college. But believe it or not, they do go by, and before you know it, you’re a full-fledged adult with a full plate of responsibilities. So before you hit the big “2-5,” here are five things to be sure to schedule into those high school and college years.
1. Visit that place you’ve always wanted to see.
Every stage of life is busy, but the post-college years are quickly consumed by career, marriage, friends’ weddings, babies and a hefty stack of bills. The summers of your high school and college years are a perfect opportunity to visit the place you’ve always dreamed of going. Growing up in northern Michigan, I always wanted to see the American West. The summer after my sophomore year I took a job as a wrangler at a camp in New Mexico, where I led trail rides in the mountains outside Santa Fe. I made some of my best memories—and best friends—by making time for my dream!
2. Learn to manage your money.
You might be wondering how to pay for visiting your dream location. Learning money management skills at a young age not only gives you an advantage over many young people in today’s world, but will also give you the freedom and opportunity to see some of your dreams come true. Good money management comes down to some basic principles:
- Don’t spend more than you have.
- Learn how to make and use a budget.
- Learn how to say “no” and wait for a better deal.
- Save for the future.
The jobs I worked in high school, combined with the principles above, bought me my first car, paid for my New Mexico trip and helped put me through college. Never underestimate the demand for a good work ethic and the ability to manage money well!
3. Go out with someone who’s not your “type.”
For many of my single years I had a very distinct “type” when it came to dating. Almost all of them were similar in age, height, complexion and interests. It never occurred to me that I was ruling out a lot of godly young men based on very superficial criteria.
The Bible clearly tells us we are not to be in intimate relationships with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) and we should be pursuing relationships with people who draw us nearer to God. But aside from shared values, many girls tack on a long list of “requirements” that are actually more like “preferences.” It was when I set aside some of these preferences and gave a few guys a chance that I met my husband—which you can read more about in my post “Why I Didn’t Marry My Type.”
4. Get to know your siblings.
Not all of us have siblings, but this applies just as much to your parents and other immediate family. We tend to take our families for granted because, well, they’re always there. When I went to college, my youngest sister was only six. She’ll spend most of her growing years without me around. Take the time to heal your relationships with your family. Spend time getting to know them. Learn to appreciate them for who they are and they will begin to appreciate you as well.
My dad often said, “Your siblings will be your best friends, so treat them well.” I didn’t believe him! But now, looking back, I see that it’s true. Your immediate family—however big or small—can be a wonderful support as you launch into life on your own.
5. Commit to a consistent, intimate relationship with your Savior.
The hardest part about pursuing a relationship with God is being consistent. It’s so easy to get distracted, tired and busy, putting God on the back burner. But God never has us on the back burner. God continually reaches out to us in love and longs for us to love Him back.
Learning to cultivate a consistent habit of drawing near to God is the best thing you can do before you turn 18, 20, 25 or any other age. God is the source of strength, wisdom and peace that we need in order to make the big life decisions ahead: where to go to college, whether to buy a certain car, what job to apply for, whom to marry. By drawing near to God daily, you will walk in the strength and dignity necessary to live a life that glorifies Him and brings you peace.