21 Lessons I've Learned by 21
READ TIME: 6 MINUTES
It’s Friday evening. My eyes are freshly wiped after crying over of a song score release for the final ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ movie, Toothless is on my lap, easily available for me to hug him as I have the past on my mind. My room smells like lavender from the seven drops of balancing diffuser oil I bought from ‘Saje.’ I stare at the vision board I made prior to going offline for ten months. I think of all the places I’ve been and dream of being. Most importantly, I can’t help but notice this nagging feeling inside of me that I’m not as young as I once was. I’m still young in many ways, but I’m also old in many ways.
I’ve learned a lot from growing up to turning 21. It’s crazy how I can now say I’m that old. I’m really lucky to be here. It’s exciting and scary to look forward to a future that will be filled with more laughter, more friends, more letting go, more heartbreak, more loss. I feel giddy with the energy of wanting to experience so much, because I’ve learned the value of time. Before I continue to talk about this weird feeling of being this old and young age, I’ve compiled a list of significant lessons I’ve come across thus far:
Sometimes, you’ve got to block out your external environment to listen to your inner voice —even if it’s your family. If you move with an abundance of confidence, they’ll have no choice but to support you.
Don’t be so fixed on one specific idea of yourself —you’re ever changing. Allow yourself to explore and to bloom.
Don’t focus so much on what everyone else thinks about you. The way each individual sees you is different than how you see yourself. At the end of the day, it’s how you feel about yourself.
Don’t force yourself to feel a certain way. Let your emotions flow and be accepting of them all.
It may not always seem like it, but you are loved and cared for each and every day. Just because people are upset with you doesn’t mean they don’t like you. Understand that other people have different love languages.
Don’t ever devalue yourself to try in hopes it will make someone like you. Don’t ever think you’re too much. Never feel the need to prove yourself. You’ll know which energy to entertain and you know which not to. Those who like you will show you. You are amazing and that’s all you deserve. As Amber Khan once said in her Aries video, Know your worth and then add tax!
The most important relationship is the one with yourself. Don’t move with the mentality of obligation, move with the mentality of desire. Do what you’ve got to do to take care of yourself. Lip sync to the Cheetah Girls, watch a sad movie to force tears out of your eyes, don’t tell anyone about your plans, hop on a plane far away —it’s your life, boo! The more you cultivate your own love, the bigger and better the opportunities you’re given, and the more aligned they are with who you are.
Remember that not all strangers are bad people. Smile, say hello; a new friend could be a few lines away. You’ll never know once you try.
Don’t buy anything you don’t need, most of the time. You’ll need that money to support your impulsive nature.
Have a stream of income available before quitting a job. Like mama always says, work while you can.
Remember that everyone else is just as confused as you are. We’re all going through it.
Don’t wait on other people’s approval of you and your plans. Do it anyways. Live for yourself.
Set healthy boundaries with others and yourself. Actively practice self-compassion and self-care.
Not everyone deserves all of you. As my friend Passion once wrote, cutting people off isn't necessary; sometimes, you just have to recategorize them. Pay attention to those who clap when you aren't always in the spotlight. They’re special.
Dress the way you want to dress. Don’t feel the pressure to conform to societal expectations of how you should present yourself. What matters more is your physical and emotional comfort. We all express ourselves differently.
As soon as you say “I'll do it later,” do it now. If necessary, you can do it tomorrow, but don’t get in the habit of that and don’t beat yourself up about it.
Choosing not to complete something doesn't make you a failure. It means that you're being guided towards something that's better suited to you. Complaining about what’s out of your control will only attract more situations that will try to teach you just that. Trust in the timing of things. Nothing is a coincidence.
Never put anyone on a pedestal. A celebrity, a politician, a kind stranger. They’re probably not as great as you might think. We’re all human after all.
At the end of the day, it’s the choices you make that determine your happiness. When you make sacrifices that don’t benefit both parties, you suffer. Choose what’s best for you.
Spend time with your loved ones, because as you’re getting older, they’re getting older too.
Consistently practice gratitude. Once you love, work, and live like there’s no tomorrow, you’ll realize that everything around you is a gift. Undesirable situations turn into lessons to help you grow, and desirable situations remind you how amazing it feels to experience life as it comes.
So don’t feel like your love for life and everything is too much. Don’t feel like you’re too cheesy. Don’t feel like your hair is too crazy. Don’t feel like you talk too much. Don’t feel like you’re too picky. Love where you’re at and love who’s been around you and who wants to be around you. Heck, love those who don’t want to love you. For they don’t know how amazing you are. Guard that bright heart of yours, show that beautiful smile, and use your gifts to show people what you’re made of.
I wrote a lot about turning 21. I’ll soon post up that letter preceding this. Even writing these lessons, I kept looking over them because I wanted to ensure that these were the major lessons I’ve had to learn again and again. I can’t say I’ve mastered them, but they’re definitely ones that have played some huge roles in my life. Anyways, see you soon!