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21 Things I’ve Learned: A Preface To My 21st Birthday

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

Turning 21 feels like a fresh, new chapter in my life. 

It’s not about the milestone or the implications of what being “21” means for me at all. It’s actually more than that and instead represents what this year signifies for my life as a whole

2021 is the year I’ll have graduated college, the year I’ll have gotten my first job, the year I’ll have taken a leap to do something I genuinely love.

My 21st birthday falls on Mother’s Day, May 9th, which feels special, given my relationship with my mom. She’s my best friend, and celebrating the day together only adds to the feelings of novelty surrounding my birthday.

I’ve always been a huge birthday person, and I know not everyone is. But in my house, everyone’s birthday is a big occasion. This year, I feel oddly nostalgic and grown-up, and I’ve been reflecting on everything I’ve learned. 

I’ve dreamt of turning 21 since the day I turned 18. I think everyone always wants to skip ahead, but now that the day is right around the corner, I’ve found myself wanting life to pause so I can enjoy and savor it more. 

I’ve also found myself thinking about the mistakes and choices I’ve made, and I wanted to share my top 21st most important ones:

1. Appreciate Your Family More

Especially if they’re supportive! They love you more than anyone.

2. Your Experience Isn’t Universal

Don’t let your judgment cloud your words or actions.

3. Stop Being Friends With People You Don’t Actually Like

They probably don’t like you either, FYI.

4. Don’t Lie To People About How You Feel

You’re not protecting them, you’re just prolonging the inevitable.

5. Stop Investing Yourself Into Your Relationships

Your romantic partner should add to you, not take away from you!

6. You’re Not As Smart As You Think You Are

But you’re also not as dumb. Act accordingly.

7. The World Is Tough, But So Are You

And don’t forget it; write it out every day if you have to.

8. Love Isn’t The End-All, Be-All

Romantic relationships require effort and consistency, not just love.

9. Tell Your Friends You Love Them

Even if they don’t say it back. Tell them because you mean it.

10. Don’t Hold A Grudge

It hurts you more than anything, letting go is much less heavy.

11. Stop Taking Everything So Personally

Not everything is about you, in the least offensive way possible.

12. Celebrate The Small Things

An A on your paper, the end of a semester. Treasure it all!

13. Be Authentic + Real

People can sense when you’re not. Be unapologetically you.

14. Don’t Do Things Because They’re “Cool”

Unless you want to, in which case, go off.

15. Take All The Pictures

Even if you break up or stop being friends. You’ll be so happy you kept them later on.

16. Don’t Go So Fast

Pace yourself with everything, everything happens in due time.

17. Learn To Say “No”

And contrarily, learn to say “yes.” But no is far more important.

18. Listen To Your Mom

She’s going to be annoyingly right like 98% of the time.

19. Have The Hard Conversations

Approaching sensitive topics can be scary, but do it anyway.

20. Stop Being So Lazy

Be ambitious about your goals because nobody else will be.

21. Have No Regrets

If you hadn’t made those mistakes, they never would’ve led you here.

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Daniela Gonzalez is a 21-year-old HerCampus Writer at Florida International University. She is currently double-majoring in Political Science and International Relations while acquiring certificates in Pre-Law and National Security. She enjoys writing about lifestyle, wellness, and politics. When she is not writing, she loves to travel, go out to eat, and spend time with her friends and family.