20 Things Learned Before Turning 21

Turning 21 is one of those big, pinnacle moments of your life. You can’t deny its significance. When you turn 21, you’ll have been alive for just over two decades, and within your years, you will have certainly experienced a variety of events, moments, thoughts and feelings—both good and bad.

I know that I’m still young, and still trying to figure everything out. I know that there is still a lot more ahead of me. But in my years so far, I’ve seen a lot. I’ve felt a lot. I’ve learned a couple of things along the way, and I know it won’t stop here:

  1. To always be kind. Sometimes being kind pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t do a good deed for the sole purpose of personal gain. It is so vital to show kindness to others each and every day. The world needs more love.
  2. Ask for what you want and need. Rejection is inevitable. Rejection will happen to you. But rejections are valuable and far more worthwhile than a life of ‘what ifs.’ So, put yourself forward for things, make the moves and decisions that you need to. Dare to dream further.
  3. Food shopping is expensive. However, cooking from scratch is so satisfying.
  4. Try not to compare your life and personal achievements to someone else. Perhaps as a default in human nature, we are all guilty of doing this, but try your hardest not to. I am on a different path compared to you, who is on a completely different path compared to someone else. Plus, we all started our respective paths in very different places and are all going through our own very different circumstances. But you will end up where you need to be, with the people you need and doing what you need to do. Many of us are guilty of only focusing on all that we still have yet to do, what is yet to be done—we barely take any time to acknowledge and reflect on all that we have achieved in life so far. Which is rather silly. So, please, take the time to recognize all that you have done and all that you do. You are a credit to yourself, don’t ignore that.
  5. Music helps everything. No matter what you may feel, music uplifts and empowers us. Music reminds us that we aren’t alone. And you should never underestimate the power of a solo dance party around your room to some feel good tunes.
  6. People you know will change. And that includes yourself. But change is not always a bad thing. I am not the same person I was a year ago, nor am I the same person I was 10 years ago. I am continually going through things and becoming a better, stronger version of myself.
  7. Plans fall through. It happens. It’s disappointing, but there’s never much you can do about it. That’s just life for you.
  8. It’s important to rid yourself of the toxic people and influences in your life. Those who bring you down, those who do not contribute towards your overall well-being and happiness do not deserve a place in your life. Once you get rid of a toxic person, you may miss them. Or rather, you will miss when times were good and will yearn for what used to be. You will miss the feeling, not the person. Nostalgia will make it seem like they were a better person to you than they actually were. Don’t let nostalgia fool you into thinking that who they are now is good for you.
  9. So, stand up for yourself. Know your worth. Do not settle for anything that makes you uncomfortable. Do not settle for anyone who brings you down.
  10. Say ‘YES’ to things. Don’t stay cooped up in your room all the time. Get out and about, do something. Otherwise, how else are you going to create any memories? You will never fondly remember the day you sat in and binge-watched your favorite TV series, but you will remember the day you went to the beach with your best friends.
  11. Laugh. Laugh a lot. Uncontrollably. Until you can’t breathe. Shriek out loud and clap your hands together, gasping, like a seal. A life without laughter is hardly a life at all.
  12. And say how you feel. Do not be afraid to show your emotions and let people know you feel. You never know how much time you have with someone, and life is far too short. So, if you feel a certain way about someone, let them know. Who knows? It could be the start of a brilliant friendship, it could rekindle a bond between someone you grew apart from. Above all, love those you love with all your heart and let them know it. Please don’t be shy in saying so.
  13. There will be people who don’t take to you. And yeah, that might hurt. But in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. The sum of your existence is not measured by someone else’s thoughts.
  14. Learn to stop saying sorry for things you don’t need to say sorry for. I have a tendency to do this, and it can become a very annoying habit. It eventually swallows you up, and takes away the true power of an apology, too. Say sorry when it’s actually needed. Don’t let people bully you into believing you need to apologize for something that’s out of your control.
  15. It’s okay to be scared. When you are, remember to breathe, comfort yourself and tell yourself that you are strong and have made it through every bad moment of your life so far. It’s impossible to be brave all the time, but that doesn’t diminish your strength. You’ve got this.
  16. Mostly everyone fakes their confidence. It is so important to keep in mind that the majority of people you know, those you pass in the street, nearly everyone is nowhere near as confident as they portray. Even if they seem it or act it, they’re surely blagging it (I definitely am). So, in light of this, remember to give your ‘confident’ friends little reminders of how great they are, they need confidence boosts as much as everyone else.
  17. It is perfectly normal to be sad over things that haven’t occurred recently in your life. Occasionally a song, or a photograph, or a scent, or a date will remind you of something—or someone—that conjures up sadness within you. That’s okay. Whenever this sad thing occurred, whether it be days, weeks, months or years ago, it does not make your sadness any less valid.
  18. And sometimes, things are not okay. Maybe a lot of the time they aren’t okay. But you don’t have to pretend that they are. There will be good days, and there will be bad days. What matters most is that you talk about not just the good feelings you experience, but the bad ones, too, and know that things will get better.
  19. Trust your gut. It is always, always right. Always.
  20. Everything happens for a reason. A very cliché, overused and stereotypical phrase. But it is one I have come to not just believe as true, but one that I have found to be true. You are exactly where you’re meant to be in this moment in time. Sometimes, the things we initially wish and want to happen for us don’t. But more often than not, this leads us down a path to something far greater. You will come out on top. What’s for you won’t go past you.

Here’s to my 21st year. I’m still learning and growing with every day that comes to me.

Like this post? View similar content here: What Did I Learn About Myself In 30 Years
by hannahbaxter

I am a journalism graduate and currently studying international relations. Writing has always been such a passion of mine and a core part of my life and I hope to find any way to further pursue it and spread positivity with it wherever I go 🙂

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