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Things I Thought I Would Have Learned by the Time I Turned 21

The days leading up to my 21st birthday were pretty overwhelming. When you turn 21, it’s a big deal. You are expected to function as an adult and gain an increased sense of independence. You are expected to know so much and have your life figured out- at least that’s what I thought.

 I put all this pressure on myself to feel like a new person by the time I turned 21. I always looked at people who were 21 and thought “Wow, when I’m that age I will be a totally new person.” And although I have grown as a person, I don’t think I’ve transformed like I assumed I would when I was younger.

I have learned a lot and experienced many, many things in my 21 years of life.

But once my birthday passed, I realized there are things that I thought I would have mastered by now, or at least felt more confident about. Here are a few:

1) How Taxes Work

I feel that taxes are something that most people do not fully grasp, which is why they hire other people to deal with them. Although this one may be relatable to many, it still perplexes me. Why don’t they teach us important life skills like this in school? Who is supposed to teach you about taxes? The consequences for messing them up can be costly, so who is supposed to help me figure it out?

2) How to Order a Drink at the Bar

When I finally turn 21, how am I supposed to know what to order at a bar? Besides what my parents may drink (which is minimal) and what I’ve heard from my older sister, I am completely lost when it comes to liquors and mixers and everything else. I have only been 21 for three weeks, but I am unsure of how to expand my mixed drinks knowledge. Kind of expected I would have some idea, but then again why would I?

3) How to Have an Argument Without Getting Emotional

Alright, who’s with me on this one? When you’re an emotional person, it’s hard to contain yourself. I can have discussions just fine, but if I am arguing for something I’m passionate about, forget it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to control my emotions like some adults, but then again that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

4) How to Use Facebook

I definitely missed the boat on this one. I feel that I am stuck behind the generation that adores Facebook and will have to rely on my more modern social platforms forever. It’s kind of humbling that my mom is a Facebook whiz, and I don’t even know how to create a post.

5) How to Navigate Without a Map

The strong directional genes just did not find me. My mom could walk through Manhattan without any map or phone and be just fine. I really thought I would be able to navigate at least Long Island without my phone, but I overestimated that one. I have gotten better, but everything goes into Apple Maps regardless.

In reality, it’s not the end of the world that I do not have everything figured out as a freshly 21-year-old woman. There are plenty of things I may never know, and that’s okay!

Growing up is all about experiencing new things and challenging yourself but also about being comfortable with who you are and what you know.  So, if you feel discouraged about how much you’ve learned so far, use this as a reminder that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Be confident in what you do know and be honest about the things you don’t. Both are parts of who you are.

Mia Sansanelli

Sacred Heart '23

Sports Communication and Media Major Sport Management Minor Women's Soccer Player Sacred Heart University '23
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