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Twenty-One Lessons I’ve Learned in My Twenty-One Years of Life

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

Age is a peculiar concept. Rooted in time and space, age is a memory holder and a reminder of our transformations. The occurrences we have associated with a certain age create periods in an individual’s lifetime. We all experience childhood, those of us who are fortunate, schooling, the trials of puberty, young love, adulthood, adult love, and then old age signaled by the gray hairs on our heads and the wrinkles on our faces, and never once does the exploration of identity ever seem to come to an end.  

Though I’m only 21 years old, I feel like I’ve learned many lessons, even more than I could handle at times. Maybe it’s just me, but in being born in the digital age, it seems that everyone wants to age rapidly and reach a dream that has no time limit, the pressure only deriving from comparison. I am guilty of this. But I make sure to remind myself that all the lessons I have learned will serve to guide me in my next years of life, to follow my own path in its own time. 

I know there will be many more lessons to come, but for now, I have compiled significant ones I believe have improved my relationship with the world and have helped me understand myself in this life. 


1. You’ll never find yourself

You’re a constantly changing being. Learning to accept that you cannot be what or who you were yesterday or who you think you should be, is easing to the soul.

2. Do whatever you want

Now this is my life motto, do as you wish as long as you are not intentionally hurting others. Life moves quickly and you cannot return to today once the day has passed.  

3. Feel any emotion without guilt

If you’re angry, feel the temperature rise, your heart pump quickly and scream or cry if you have to. Don’t feel like you must be strong or appear put together for others. 

4. Exercise as often as you can

Incorporate motion into your life instead of just sitting or laying down. Take a walk in the mornings or stretch your body for ten minutes. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym.

5. You’re never going to be fully ready, but you will be as ready as you can be 

Sometimes you just have to do it, without overthinking it or already predicting you might fail. You will get better with practice. 

6. Think before acting or saying

For those of you like me who are at times impulsive, or quick to decide, keep on reminding yourself to take some time to think and process. 

7. Time is not your enemy

Right now it’s too much, right now it’s unclear, right now you hurt, but a month from now, something, even if it’s a tiny detail, will be different, and that is time moving in your favor.

8. Quality friends over quantity friends 

I have very few close friends, but they all empower me, support me in my endeavors, cheer with me on my accomplishments, and make me feel better about my failures. 

9. If you’re tired, go to sleep

Coffee and energy drinks are not the answer, so please recharge by sleeping. 

10. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice something

Sometimes you’re going to have to be the bad guy, let someone down, even let yourself down, not do this or that. Choose wisely. 

11. Change is good, it’s just uncomfortable

We are used to a routine, but sometimes life will turn the world upside down, and you must learn to accept and work with the flow. 

12. Forgive 

I didn’t say forget. You must remember because if you are to give someone another chance, they have to have had some type of growth. Forgive to remain at peace with yourself.

13. Sometimes you’re going to feel stuck or confused

Ground yourself in your own sense of self, it’s just a tunnel you have to go through to reach the next stage. 

14. Food heals

Your body will reward you when you eat balanced meals. 

15. There is a reason for everything even if it may not seem that way, continue fighting

As a spiritual person, I believe this, but I respect your way of thinking if you do not agree. 

16. Pay bills first then spend on yourself

I must be honest, I’ve overspent before, but having a financial structure helps with being responsible as a young adult. 

17. Connect with nature

At least for me, nature helps calm me down. Find your safe, happy place. 

18. Laugh 

Laughing is such a beautiful thing. The laughs that have you holding your stomach or gasping for air are the best types of laughs. 

19. Find ways to be creative every week

Creativity helps the inner child. 

20. It’s okay not to be productive and have time off from responsibilities

You can rest without thinking of responsibilities. You will always have responsibilities, but if you assign time in your schedule for relaxation, enjoy the moment. 

21. You don’t know everything, but you do know something, so anything is possible

You make your own reality. 

Now, I’m no prophet or sage, so take or leave the lessons I’ve learned as you desire. These are just a couple of realizations and truths I’ve come to use as guidance into this thing called life. I hope that as I continue to age, I add more lessons into my life that enhance the human experience. 

Mayra Sierra

UC Irvine '23

Mayra is a third-year studying Art and Film & Media Studies. In her free time she likes to watch movies, dance like no one's watching, spend more money than she has shopping and take nature walks when it's time for her social battery to recharge. Mayra currently has a coffee AND boba addiction she can't get rid of, but is working on it.