For those of you who don’t know, my 21st is coming up soon.
Yes, I’m super excited, and I can’t wait to celebrate with my family and close friends, but it has made me contemplate a few things throughout my life. In my 21 years, I have had a number of experiences, both good and bad, and a whole host of learning curves. Being 21 is a strange age – you’re old enough to know better, but too young to really do that much with your life. You’re expected to work, but too young to be in your dream career. You’re expected to be independent, but not in the financial position to wholly provide for yourself. By the time you reach this age, it almost feels like everything changes. It’s the age where you’re officially ‘welcomed into adulthood’, given the ‘key to the door’ as they used to say, and so much more is expected of you than before. Reaching this milestone, has made me realise how many lessons I have actually learnt in my 21 years, and how I am a much better person for living, learning, and overcoming.
I want to share these life lessons with you, because I’m sure that almost anybody who is anybody has made similar mistakes in their lifetime, and if you haven’t, you can be ever so slightly more prepared when you do. Because, trust me, you will make mistakes! But that’s okay, life is a huge learning curve in itself, and it is all about making mistakes, learning from them, and becoming the best you possible.
And here they are, all 21 of them!
1. Change is inevitable
Life is never perfect. And life never happens the way you want it to. At some point or another, something is going to change, and you’re going to have to get used to it. Change isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it opens so many new doors, and leads you exactly on the course you were supposed to be on. Have faith.
2. Work-life balance is crucial
Yes, its important to have a career, but having a balance between your work and your life is crucial. If you work too much and pay too little attention to your life, you will crack and crumble under pressure. If you have a little too much play in your life with little or no focus on your career, then in hindsight you won’t really get very far. This balance can mean the difference between a high or low quality of life.
3. You can’t control what people think of you
People are people. Everybody has an opinion, and everybody is entitled to their own. However, don’t get caught up on others’ opinions of you. I’ve spent far too many hours worrying about what people think of me, and what does it matter, really? The only opinion that you should listen to is your own.
4. Empowered women empower others
Strong women radiate confidence, postivity, and self-love. Strong women have the capability to spread those feelings around in the air around them, just being in the presence of a strong woman can encourage you to feel strong yourself. Be one of those strong women, and empower as many women as you can.
5. You’ve never really been in someone else’s shoes
Although you may have been in a similar situation to someone before, saying “I know how you feel” doesn’t help them, it actually makes them feel worse. The truth is, you’ve never actually been in the exact same position as somebody else, and you’ve never been in their shoes to understand the way in which they are dealing with someone. Empathy goes further than this.
6. Never let your pride get in the way of anything
Pride is both good and bad. It can be good in a whole host of situations – but not when it prevents you from getting on with your life, or doing things that you really want to do, it can be extremely bad. Trust your own judgment, and don’t let pride get in your way.
7. Respect should be earnt, not given
‘Respect your elders’ is not something I live by. Not anymore. Just because somebody is older than you, and has lived for longer, it doesn’t mean they are any wiser, and should have automatic respect to you. In fact, this goes for everyone. Respect is earnt. If someone respects you, then they deserve the same in return.
8. We are all only human
Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and you need to accept it now to save yourself a silly amount of stress and worry. It is expected that we’re going to mess up sometimes, we are only human, and there’s only so much you can do. You will lead a much happier life if you just accept this fact, and take each person and circumstance as it is.
9. Every experience counts for something
Every experience is a lesson learned. Whether it had a good outcome or a bad outcome – it will have taught us something valuable – that’s the reason why we have experiences in the first place. Although we might be hurt sometimes, it can only make us stronger in the future.
10. Never search for love – let it find you
One of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made is going out and looking for love, expecting to find the perfect man right around the corner. Life doesn’t work that way. ‘You’ll find the right person when you’re least expecting it’.
11. There is more to education than school
I’m a huge believer that life is all about learning, and that there will never be a time when you know absolutely everything. And there isn’t any other person in this world that knows absolutely everything, either. We are brought up to believe that school will give us enough of an education to get by, and it will. But there is so much knowledge outside of a school curriculum, and it is outside school that you learn the most.
12. Being outside your comfort zone is a good thing
Okay, it might feel super uncomfortable when you’re actually there, but there are tonnes of benefits from being out of your comfort zone. There’s so many occasions in the past that I was out of my comfort zone, but looking back, I don’t regret any of them. In fact, they were the times I had most fun, and made the most memories.
13. Time waits for no-one
Time will pass, no matter how you spend it. There is no such thing as ‘the right timing’, life happens whether you want it to or not. You might as well make the most of the moment you are in, and look forward to the next.
14. You will never be ‘ready’
Following from the above point, life happens whether you want it to or not. If you wait until you’re ready, then you will be waiting your whole life.
15. Never turn your back on yourself
You are you, and that is your power. We all have strong beliefs and values, and you should never turn your back on yourself. There is a reason you feel the way you do about certain situations, and you should always trust your own instinct.
16. Regret is real
Trust me, regret can have bigger implications on your life than you might think. Before you do anything rash, think about the consequence in 5 days time, and 5 years time, too. Regret is the one thing that can stay with you, so make sure you do everything that you want to do.
17. Don’t trust everything you hear
A lot of the things you hear are ‘hearsay’. Village gossip. But just because you hear it, that it doesn’t mean that it’s true. I’ve believed people when I shouldn’t have, and it can only lead to upset when you find out the truth. Only trust what you know to be true, and seek the truth for yourself.
18. Life’s too short, trust me
I know, I know, it’s the longest thing you ever do. But it goes by so quickly that it’s so easy to miss out on important events and feelings, and before we know it, it’s too late. Grab life with both hands. Go on that holiday, have that second glass of wine, take that small leap of faith. Make sure to put the life in your years, not the years in your life.
19. Remember the “5-rule”
If something will not matter to you in 5 years, then it is not worth spending 5 minutes worrying about. I heard this piece of advice from someone else, and as soon as I started implementing this into my life, I realised I was much happier. Unnecessary worrying can cause huge amounts of stress.
20. Never change who you are for someone else
Following from a previous point, never change your thoughts, beliefs and values for anyone. If you think you’re in a happy relationship, and they expect you to change who you are, then they are not worthy of being in your life.
21. Time heals everything
Nothing lasts forever. No matter what the situation is, it isn’t going to be hanging over you for the rest of your life. Time can heal everything, as long as you let it. Your suffering is optional, and all depends on the way you allow yourself to react. Allowing time to deal with things makes life much easier.
Everything that happens in life teaches you yet another lesson. I would love to hear what lessons you have learnt in life, and to see if they differ from mine, so please don’t hesitate to share them below!