21 Lessons I Learned By The Time I Turned 21

21 Lessons I Learned By The Time I Turned 21

What I learned in order to live my best life.

1. Call your mom!

I cannot stress this enough. My senior year of high school, I couldn't wait to get out of my house and have a dose of freedom. But, the older I get, the more I realized I really do miss home. I call my mom probably 3 times a day if not more. I call her when I need a recipe, when I have adult questions, and even when I just need to vent.

My mom is basically my on-call therapist. When my day is falling apart, I call my mom. When I have the best day and make an A on a project, I call my mom. My mom is there to laugh with me, cry with me, give advice and yell at me and tell me to get my life together.

Without calling my mom, I probably would have burnt my apartment building down due to my horrible cooking skills and failed my education classes and not known how to present a lesson plan. Your mom is the best person in the world, and she is a superhero, so pick up the phone and call her!

2. It is okay to not have your life figured out

This is a lesson that took me a while to learn because the planner I am likes to have everything planned out. You are young, you have time! So, travel the world, take that Maymester, get a minor, and pursue your dreams.

3. It is okay to fail

Now, I am the type A student who hates failure. But as a person, I learned that it is okay to fail. Yes, I may have failed my first math test this semester, but failing that test taught me perseverance and hard work. The harsh reality of seeing that F on my paper made me study even more for the next test, in which my hard work paid off and I made a 94.

4. Volunteer

I have a heart for volunteering and have always loved doing it. At the College of Charleston, I have volunteered with many programs, and all have been life-changing for me. Without my volunteering opportunity at Reading Partners, I would not have gone into the field of early childhood education.

I realized my true passion for children and how to love them and support them no matter what. Volunteer for the right reasons, not just so you can put it on your resume. When you volunteer for the right reason, your life changes and you are truly blessed.

5. Wake up each morning and enjoy a cup of coffee

I am the first to say that I hate mornings. I am a dead zombie when my alarm goes off, and if someone talks to me before I have my coffee, well the end result is not a good one. So, wake up and fix yourself a morning cup of coffee and enjoy it. Crawl back in bed under your fluffy comforter and soft blanket and sip your coffee while waking up.

6. Cherish friendships

My time at the College of Charleston did not start off on the right foot. I struggled my freshman year making friends, and my sophomore year, I struggled to cope with the fact that I had had 3 roommates. I look back and thought of my freshman and sophomore year in college as a failure.

Starting my junior year, I finally found my best friends. I learned that it is perfectly okay to not have ten thousand friends. I value friendship on the quality of the relationship, not the quantity. It took me three years to find friends who love me for me and will answer stupid texts and pick up the phone at 2 AM when I need someone to talk to.

7. Don't go out every weekend, rather take time for yourself

After three years of college, I finally realized that college is not about being the life of the party. I also realized that I am truly a 40-year-old woman that is stuck in a 21-year-old body. It is perfectly fine to stay in for the night, light some candles, paint your nails, and watch How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days. Of course, for me, I like to have a glass of Riesling and eat my favorite candy, peanut m&m’s.

8. Share your struggles and challenges with the people you trust

Starting in high school and throughout college, I have dealt with terrible anxiety. It wasn't until my sophomore year at the College of Charleston that I saw a doctor about my anxiety. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. There have been times when I felt completely lonely and no one understands what I am going through.

Not until I opened up and shared my struggles with anxiety did I really feel loved by other people. I realized by sharing my struggles with anxiety did not make me weaker, it made me stronger. Anxiety is something that is hard for me to control, but having people in my life that come alongside me and support me has helped me control some aspects of anxiety.

9. Travel

I am the type of person who hates airplanes and going anywhere but home is out of my comfort zone. However, I have taken two mission trips, one to Mexico and one to Haiti. For some odd bizarre reason, I felt God calling me to go and I couldn't ignore him. My trip to Mexico taught me the lesson of love and forever changed my life.

During the summer of sophomore year in college, I went on a mission trip to Haiti. I am not going to lie—this mission trip was mentally and physically exhausting, but boy was it oh so rewarding. I was immersed in a culture unlike my own and witnessed that life is not about having a bunch of riches and money. It is about enjoying the simple things and being grateful for those while abiding in Christ, for he is our provider.

10. Get plenty of sleep

I am a strong believer in naps and getting into bed by 10 PM. Yes, so many people call me a grandma for going to bed so early. Seriously, getting eight hours of sleep is so important! Don't pull all-nighters studying, rather get some shut-eye so you are ready to take on the day.

11. Read all sorts of books

Reading is the best thing to do on a sunny day at the beach or cold fall day while snuggled up in a blanket. We learn so much from reading, and often times we get lost in the words of others finding ourselves.

12. Try new things!

Life is simply boring if you don't try new things! I recently tried taking yoga over the summer and it was totally worth it. Be open to trying new things, and you never know; you may find a hobby! So try a cooking class, try a yoga class, or take a woodworking class. Whatever it is, try something new!

13. Get a job

This lesson is a tough one to learn, but a valuable one. I recently started babysitting a family in January, and I have learned so much. It is about relationships. I learn so much about the children that I babysit. I am inspired by their imagination and love for life. Although some jobs may not be as fun as mine, make the best of the situation!

14. Get dressed up every now and then

It feels so good to get dressed up in a cute outfit and go out! Put on your booties, some mascara, and get that extra boost of confidence!

15. Stop comparing yourself to others

This is something that I am still struggling with. When we compare ourselves to others, we lose confidence in ourselves. We set ourselves up on a pedestal that will never be achievable. When you stop comparing yourself to others, you learn more about yourself and what makes you, you.

16. Love yourself

I have struggled with so many insecurities in my life, that often times it is hard to love myself for who I am. Find ways to love yourself. It may be as simple as saying “I got this” or “You look amazing” in the mirror each morning. When we love ourselves, we can begin to love others and love life!

17. Journal

My dad taught me how important it is to journal. It may be as simple as writing down your thoughts of the day or your high’s and low’s, but journaling is so important. I like to use my journal to write prayers and what is on my mind.

When I have written down my thoughts, I can go back and look through to see how much I have changed as a person. Journaling can be a stress reliever as well, a place where we can write all our thoughts down and let it out.

18. Wake up to see the sunrise

I am not an early bird whatsoever but something is so special about seeing a sunrise in the wee hours of the morning. I have had the opportunity to see the sunrise over the Grand Canyon and that was a masterpiece of nature. Take a moment to enjoy nature and start your day off right.

19. Go for a walk

Times when I am stressed or just want to talk, I like to go for a walk with my dogs and my parents. I love walking on a cold, crisp fall morning around my neighborhood. Escape your phone or the drama that is in your life and go for a walk outside. It is totally worth it.

20. Write letters

One thing that I love receiving is mail. My grandma always goes out of her way to send me mail with a sweet card and a little gift inside. It truly makes my day knowing that someone is thinking about me. Her letters always come at the right time. I may not be the best at mailing letters, but take some time out of your day to write to someone special in your life. You never know how much it means to them.

21. Live!

Live your best life. Stop waiting for the weekend! Buy the shoes that you've been eyeing in the window of your favorite store. Eat ice cream for breakfast! Whatever you do, find a life that you want to live and make it your story!

Cover Image Credit: Catherine Parker

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