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21 Lessons I stand by for my 21st Birthday

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

I’m turning 21 today and I can’t help but think about all the life lessons I’ve learned thus far. If I could talk to my younger self, I would generously donate all of my well-earned knowledge to her and help her learn from the past. Sadly, time travel doesn’t exist, but hopefully my list of 21 life lessons that I’ve learned for my 21st birthday will suffice!


It’s totally okay to feel anxious about certain circumstances in your life––in fact, it’s a natural feeling. But oftentimes feeling anxious can make things worse. It’s a nuisance to feel worked up over issues, especially if they are inconsequential. Just remember: the only thing anxiety achieves is making you endure suffering twice. 

If they treat you wrong, show them the door

Red flags are red flags for a reason. Don’t beg or chase after people who don’t give you the time of day. If they treat you wrong, leave them. Never settle for less. 

Not everyone will like you

As somebody who needs validation from others, this was a difficult pill to swallow. As hard as it is, it’s normal for some people not to like you––and it’s completely fine for you to not like everybody you meet. This goes into my fourth point…

You will findyour people

When I was a university freshman, the most daunting task was trying to fit in and make new friends. I can assure you that the first people you meet at orientation week won’t necessarily be the friends you’ll keep for the rest of your life, but sometimes they are! It’s never too late to make new friends. Whether it’s by accident or through your class’ WhatsApp group, you will know who your group of people are.

Learn new skills

It’s never too late to learn a new life skill. Whether it’s a new language, how to bake or ride a bike, you will never know what you’re good at until you try it! You also might discover something you don’t enjoy; life is an on-going learning cycle. This ties into my next point…

Grasp all the opportunities you can

University is a great chance to join clubs, apply for jobs and gain valuable internship experience. Take advantage of your resources and build that network and resume!

High school doesn’t affect your life now

No, the person you were in high school isn’t the same person you are now. I guarantee you that nobody is going to remember your 17-year-old self––and if they do, that isn’t you anymore so it shouldn’t matter! Life goes on and you grow from every experiences you encounter. High school was just four years of your life; you’ll have many more years ahead of you. You’re always capable of growth.

Nobody’s opinion matters EXCEPT YOUR OWN

Other people’s opinions of you won’t define who you are unless you allow them to. Why would you care about what other people think of you? You do realize that there are 7.9 billion people in the world, right? Do you really think your high school classmates’ opinions matter that much?

Be kind

You don’t know what everybody else is going through, so why be rude? It doesn’t take much to be a kind person and turn the other cheek. When you are generous to others, you’ll feel it within yourself.

Love yourself

Loving yourself can profoundly impact who you are and how you feel about yourself. Learn to love the little and big things about yourself––you’re amazing and deserve it!

You aren’t weak if you ask for help

I used to be somebody who hated asking for help at the risk of feeling like a burden. Sometimes you need to ask for help because we can’t always navigate through life on our own. Asking for help won’t make you appear weak––in fact, it only shows how much you care. People are also a lot more than willing to help you out than you might think.

no one cares about what you post on Social media

I used to hate posting on social media because I felt as though my life had to resemble my Pinterest vision board. I hated having that stomach-churning sensation before posting pictures and I would constantly end up comparing my likes to my previous posts. 

The truth is: social media isn’t real. Models photoshop themselves to fit beauty standards and bloggers lie about where they travel. Nobody cares about how many likes you get, where you went on vacation or what you post. Don’t allow your entire life to be controlled by the internet. Post what you want and when you want. Take this as a sign to deep cleanse your social media followers and make your main account feel as comfortable as your spam account!

Social media breaks will save your life

Social media can be quite overwhelming, especially with the state of affairs in the world right now. You have a life beyond social media and your mental health matters more than what you post. Take social media breaks when you need them.

A good cup of coffee will take you places

This token of wisdom is coming from an avid procrastinator who has pulled multiple all-nighters (in a row) to complete assignments. Coffee will be your new best friend in your twenties.

Check out this article about some coffee shops you can find in Toronto!

Care for your body

They say that your body is a temple. Take some time out of your day to care for yourself, whether it’s rewatching your favourite Netflix show for the 10th time or applying a face mask. When in doubt, self-care it up!

Embrace uncertainty

Life is a chain of uncertainty. I clearly didn’t plan on attending my third year of “Zoom university” from across the world while living with my parents. Even if you have an already-made plan for your life, you can’t always prepare for the unexpected. You never know where you are going to be in the next few years, so take this as an opportunity to go with the flow. Good things will come your way, I promise!

Healing is not linear

I always used to believe that healing was a straightforward process following a significant event in my life. Boy, was I wrong.

The process of healing can be like a seesaw; one day you feel content and on top of the world, and the next, you feel overwhelmed with pain and sadness. Healing isn’t linear so don’t rush the process. Otherwise, you’ll cover your “wound” by blocking out your emotions, which will only delay the healing.

Say what you mean

There’s no point in dancing around your words or sugar-coating information. Obviously, don’t be rude, but tell people the honest and complete truth about how you feel. Or maybe it’s just the Virgo in me who prides myself for being blunt.

Fake it until you make it

I had a friend in high school who told me that she would fake her confidence just so people would take her more seriously. I always thought that it was such a strange thing to do; I mean, if you have to fake confidence, wouldn’t that mean you have it buried within yourself? 

But that’s the thing about faking it till you make it. It’s kind of like manifestation and affirmations before they became super mainstream. By imitating confidence, you can trick your mind into believing that you have those qualities in real life, which in turn, gives you confidence. 

Be yourself

Your early twenties are for you to find out who you are in life. Take this opportunity to explore your sexuality, find your love languages and experiment with new clothing and hairstyles. You never know what might end up being the new you!

Just go with it

I’ve learned life isn’t that deep. If I didn’t get an opportunity I wanted, did poorly on an assignment or had problems with friends, things would work themselves out eventually. It’s okay to fail––in fact, they make for valuable life lessons. Give it time and just go with it.

👯‍♀️ Related: A Letter To My 16-year-old Self
Hi everyone! I'm Ayleen and I’m a third-year journalism student from Lahore, Pakistan. I currently live in the big city of Toronto, Canada and I can't wait to share all my thoughts, and experiences with you! A few things about me... I love food, animals, and horror movies. Sounds like a killer combo am I right? Check out my writings in my profile or follow me on all my socials to see more from me!
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