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I turn 21 this week, and I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself. So, let me share my newfound introspections and lessons that I’d like to think could benefit anyone as well. These times can be embarrassing and vulnerable when you’re still making mistakes, so here are 10 things I’ve learned by 21:

Focus on what you love

When I was younger, I always relied on someone to tell me what to do in life in order to feel satisfied. However, now that I am 21, I know that figuring out what I love to do is only up to me.  I do my hobbies with pride now, something that younger me would’ve been jealous of. 

Try something new

Life is too short to only do the same things over and over again. This is the time to try and fail because you have the opportunity to learn about what you really like to do in your free time. I know in college, one feels as though there is never enough time, but try to squeeze in a new hobby like joining a cycling class, or creating ceramic bowls or really anything that you’ve thought about doing ever. 

Eat dessert

I know younger version of me was too obsessed with my body image to even think about enjoying something sweet. But by 21, I learned that my metabolism is at its peak, so eat whatever you want, especially that whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake (which is the best flavor btw). Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up a knack for baking, and it could become your “something new to enjoy.” 

Embrace your youth

You’re so young, appreciate that and don’t wish to grow old. Wishing time away just makes you yearn for it back when you’re older. Trust me, I wanted out of sophomore year of college so bad, and now that I’m out of it, I want my time to now go as slowly as possible.

Wear that dress

I’ve always been the girl who needs to know what the occasion calls for, and I always asked “ok so what is everyone wearing?” because I had the fear of standing out. But confidence is key, and I learned that if I think something needs to be worn because it is cute, then wear it! There’s no such thing as the perfect occasion, go all out whenever you deem it necessary. 

Take criticism when its due

In my teens, when someone had something to tell me about myself and my actions, I would always deflect and act like a victim. However, as I grow older, hearing my friends give me feedback has become valuable to the progression of my maturity. Sometimes the advice isn’t valid, but at the times when your friends mean it with the right intentions, accept their words as the truth and reflect them. It’s important that when you grow older, you grow humbler and wiser.

Don’t let fear stop you

Go swimming in that two piece, go rock climbing and try risks that you want to try but are too scared of public opinions to try. When you get older you’ll realize just how silly this fear mindset was to have. 

Go outside

This one is important. Go on walks at least once a week, these help you ground yourself in reality. When in college and always being on campus, you can feel trapped in a little bubble that makes you feel smothered. Walk around outside of the campus; see real life people in real life, being in nature puts a lot of things into perspective. 

Take pictures

One thing I always forget to do is to take pictures, which is upsetting because I want to be able to look back on fun times, or even bad times, just to remember how I’ve changed since then. And try hard not to delete the pictures you feel like you don’t look good in, just keep these things in your camera roll. Not everything needs to be posted on social media as well, keep pictures as private keepsakes just for you. Pictures help me romanticize my life, which makes it more pleasurable and fun. 

Love yourself first

At a time where all the people you know are in relationships, and maybe you are in one too, just remember that after college, things change and you need to be able to rely on yourself. So learn to love doing things alone, like going to a museum or getting coffee. If you invite someone to something and they can’t—or don’t—want to go, do not let that stop you! 

Overall, this is a time for reflection and mistakes. Hopefully these 10 pieces of advice are useful to your life, and if not, that’s ok, learn your own tricks by 21, it’ll be fun!

Hi :) I'm Gabrielle! I'm a second year Marketing Major, minoring in English. My favorite things are reading, drinking iced lattes with oat milk, and watching Claire Saffitz's Youtube videos!
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