I’m 21 today! Although honestly, some days I feel like a five-year-old, still feeling that rush of panic whenever someone knocks on the door or whenever I have to make a phone call. Then other days I feel like I’m an 80-year-old woman, wrapped up in my dressing gown and tucked up in bed by 9 pm. But, today I turned 21 and while I don’t feel any different, I do feel as if I have learned a lot. With one year of university left and no grand plan, there’s no doubt I still feel a bit lost. Nonetheless, this post collates 21 things I’ve learned so far which I intend to take on board with me for the foreseeable future.
1. It’s okay to say no.
2. And stop feeling guilty for doing so.
Some nights I would rather stay in and watch Netflix than go out, especially when I know I’m not going to feel comfortable.
3. But don’t let opportunities go to waste.
Even if it does mean stepping outside your comfort zone; explore new places, try new foods, and meet new people whenever you get the chance.
4. Drink a lot of water.
Granted you do end up having to go to the toilet every 30 minutes.
5. Have a book with you wherever you go and keep reading.
Read a lot. Read for fun. Read every day. I’ve learned to actually do my readings for university. I’m so glad I rekindled my love for reading this past couple of years. It’s meditative, informational, and it will broaden how you see and understand the world.
6. Cities full of people can be the loneliest of places.
7. Faking it till you make it does sometimes work.
If you told me three years ago that I would stand in front of classrooms teaching 30 students, I would have laughed right in your face. I’ve never been the paragon of confidence, but once I stood up there the unease slowly subsided. Yes, I did feel the same lingering anxiety before each class, but once I was up there, I was, normally, fine.
8. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
Comparison robs me of my creativity. In an age where we thrive on Instagram likes and Twitter reactions, it’s important to do the things you want to do, not things to impress others.
9. Pursue your passion.
10. Self-care isn’t selfish.
It’s important to take a step back from work and take a time out. For me, it’s feet up on the sofa in my PJs watching RuPaul’s drag race with a bar of my favourite chocolate.
10. Never stop learning.
Be it academically or learning life skills through experiences, I love learning. Whether it’s learning new languages, learning a new recipe or learning how to adapt to certain situations, take everything life has to offer and turn it into a lesson.
11. Make time for physical activity.
Any form of exercise, be it a morning run, strength training or some light yoga is healing, restorative and freeing. There’s something about hitting that downward dog that’s just so invigorating.
12. Eat the damn cake.
After getting stuck in an unhealthy mindset of labelling foods as ‘good’ and bad’, I’ve restored my relationship with food. You have one life, so eat the damn cake and be happy.
13. Spend as much time as you can with your loved ones.
Family will be there when no one else is.
14. Being alone doesn’t mean that you’re lonely.
It means spending time working on myself. In Madrid, although hard at times, I did my best to relish the time I had alone, and it’s comforting to know that I can fend for myself.
15. Appreciate what you already have.
Express gratitude for the little things.
16. Capture every moment.
Be it keeping a diary, writing a blog, taking pictures, you’ll be grateful for having even the most trivial memories stored away to look back on in years to come.
17. Save money.
18. Listen to your parents.
As annoying as it is to admit, they’re usually right. They’ve been there, done that, and only want what’s best for you.
19. Chasing perfection is tiresome and unfulfilling.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, perfectionism is the enemy of progress. I’ll work and work in pursuit of perfection only to be left feeling burnt out. There is no perfect essay, perfect job, perfect life. Nothing will ever be perfect.
20. Skincare is important, so do it.
No, face wipes don’t count.
21. Calm the f down.
Easier said than done. But hey, you’re only 21. You have decades left. You can’t do it all at once. Take it step by step, day by day. Don’t panic. Breathe, It’ll be okay.