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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

In all honesty, I’m not that excited to be 21. Despite the usual giddiness that surrounds the milestone in life, all I feel is neutrality. I don’t drink or party, so my age wouldn’t be opportune the way it is for millions of other people who were born in 2001. I may not have lived that long, but I have come to realize a few things that made it easier for me to cope with life. I do feel that putting these realizations on paper may make it easier for anyone else growing up too, so here are four things I learned before turning 21. 

1. Saving money helps you so much

As you get older, your needs are only going to get more expensive. Sadly, we were never really taught how to be financially independent in high school because if I’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that good money management is crucial in life. I had to purchase a laptop recently, and I did so using my own money that I earned working for only 7 hours a week. It was stressful, but it gave me more knowledge on how to be money-smart. 

Not too long ago, I’d spend most of my cash on things I never needed. When I was saving up for my laptop, I had to discipline myself, and it was hard. Open up a few accounts for immediate spending, paying bills, emergencies, and other big savings goals. Split up your paycheck appropriately and put the money in each account. You’ll be glad you did so.

2. Adults aren’t always right 

Sure, they’ve lived longer than we have, but if there is one thing we should know about adults, it’s that many of them lack perspective. We all know that there is a lot wrong with the world. If adults knew everything, the world would be a better place. Educate yourself on your surroundings and things happening around the world. Read up on concepts and principles. Fact checks everything you hear, be it from social media, or even your parents. That being said, don’t completely ignore what older people have to say. Just because they’re not always right, it doesn’t mean they’re always wrong either. Take what they say with a grain of salt, especially if you have a gut feeling that they’re wrong.

Just because they’re not always right, it doesn’t mean they’re always wrong either.

3. You’re not the main character

This one had to be said, even though it’s disappointing. Not everything is going to go our way, and we can’t expect everyone to tolerate our problems either. You’re the only one experiencing your life in first-person. Other people experience their lives in first-person as well. What I realized over the past few months is that not everything revolves around me. The more I accept the little things that are also inconvenient, the easier it is to live life. Of course, you should not ignore injustices and other large problems that come your way, but I find it draining to worry about the little things. Being the main character is exhausting. I’d rather take a minor supporting role.

4. Criticism is not always a bad thing

It’s easy for us to take offense at something that doesn’t line up with what we want to believe. I want to feel good about myself all the time, but that doesn’t mean I should get hurt at criticism that is meant to make something better. If we all responded to negative evaluations the way Rory Gilmore did, we’d stagnate. Criticism is meant to be constructive. Don’t let it get you down, but don’t ignore it because it let your ego down either.

You don’t have to be 21 to learn these things; you can be as young as 17 or as old as 35. These are just a few realizations that make being a grown-up easier than usual. I hope these tips help you in your journey, however old you are. Happy Adulting!

Hi! I’m a Sri Lankan student studying in the US; I love dogs, biology, spicy food, debate, bullet journaling and the color purple. You might find me obsessing over Sherlock and The Big Bang Theory, or drawing characters from Disney’s Tangled :)
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