21 Things I've Learned In 21 Years
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21 Things I've Learned In 21 Years

Love. I've learned a lot about love.

21 Things I've Learned In 21 Years
Shanna Mais

I've officially hit the last milestone before turning 30. I'm 21 there's nothing else I can't do (besides run for office). I've learned a lot over the past 21 years, and trying to figure out the most important lessons I've learned is really hard.

I've had such amazing people come into my life, and I have been so lucky to have the family and friends (AND DOG) that I do. Being 21 means I am an official adult. I can order/buy alcohol. That's weird. This year I've have changed more than I ever thought was possible. I am proud of who I am and how I stick up for what I believe in. Here are the 21 most important things I've learned in the 21 short years I've been alive.

1. Read books.

I was lucky to have parents who understood the value of reading, and from a young age, I have loved to read. I try to read at least one or two books a month. Due to my busy work and school schedule, sometimes the only readings I'm doing are Supreme Court cases and college textbooks. Still, just reading school material means I'm continuing to learn, and that leads me to number two.

2. No one can take your education away from you.

This one is pretty self-explanatory. I've learned to value education and the many doors it can open. Even if your path isn't college, become educated in whatever it is you're passionate about. No one can ever take that from you. It can be your most important asset - and what sets you apart from the crowd.

3. Sometimes in life, you have to be selfish.

You have to be kind and care about others, but you also need to take care of yourself, even if that means changing your major, not going out, or just saying the word no. You have to value yourself enough to know when you need a break.

4. You are smarter and prettier than you think.

I've always struggled with my self-image, both internally and externally. I never thought I was skinny enough or smart enough. I used to think I wasn't good at anything. But I had to learn to love myself in college, and that's one of the most valuable lessons an 18-year-old girl can learn.

5. Even when people let you down, find the good in everyone.

I truly believe that everyone deserves a second chance. You never know what someone might have gone through or are going through. Sometimes people need a reminder that they are loved and thought about.

6. Who runs the world? GIRLS.

Queen Bey instilled in me a sense of confidence that girls can do anything. I have seen women run for President, more women getting elected into college, and women fighting for equality. I love the strong women in my life and have learned so much from each and every one of them. Women should love each other and bring each other up, not tear one another down.

7. Your parents are people, too.

This one took me a long time to figure out. If I make mistakes every day, how is it that we expect our parents not to? They are human, too. People make mistakes and say the wrong thing, but at the end of the day no one will love you more than they do.

8. Don't be afraid to chop off all your hair.

What I mean by this is don't get comfortable. Live life to the fullest and embrace change with open arms. It took a lot of practice for me to nail this one, and I think I'm a better person for it. Every kid thinks their parents will be together forever, that your best friend in middle school will always be your best friend, that who you think you are in high school is who you will be in college. Life is always changing.

We are constantly evolving into (hopefully) better people each day. Don't be afraid to change your major, and then change it again. I've learned to love change like an old friend. I welcome change with an open door now, and I wouldn't have been able to say that about myself three years ago.

9. Buy that plane ticket.

The money will always come and go, but don't budget your life to the point where you can no longer have fun. Your twenties are the time of adventure and excitement. USE them. You will never be younger than you are at this moment and never more free to do what you want. Explore, love, get your nails done. Just don't worry about money now; it's not worth it.

10. 'I love you' are the three most important words on this planet.

Those three words strung together are some of the most beautiful, most impactful words anyone can say. Say them often and say them to everyone you love. Say them to your significant other, say them to your parents, your friends, your dog. So many times do I wish I could call my grandparents up and tell them I love them one more time. You never know when you won't have the opportunity to say them anymore.

11. Call your parents.

This is one I've gotten a lot better at over the years. I try to call my parents once a day or at least text them. I miss them so much, and I know they miss me too. It may be weird that I like talking to my parents so much, but I hate feeling so far away from them, and hearing their voices makes me feel a little closer.

12. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Mary Poppins was wise, that's for sure. Finding the littlest joy in life when things feel like they're falling apart can turn your entire mood around. Learning to focus on the positive in my life is a lesson I'm still learning. I think of myself as a realist and sometimes that isn't always a good thing. Finding and focusing on the things that make me happy helps when I'm feeling down.

13. My dad is always right.

My dad is always right. It's annoying how right he is all the time. I have learned to listen to his advice and embrace it. My dad gives some of the best advice and has a world full of insight to offer. Learning to stop being stubborn and embrace the fact that he is always right has done wonders for me. My dad and I have the greatest relationship and I am so lucky to have parents who so openly support me and love me the way mine do.

14. My mom is my rock.

If someone told me 5 years ago that my mom and I would be as close as we are today, I would have thought you were crazy. Now, I go to my mom for every little thing and I don't think we've ever been closer. I value the relationship I have with my mom so much. I think it took me understanding number seven to realize how much she cares about me and only wants the best for me in life.

15. Don't be afraid to cry.

Life is never easy, and some days are better than others. Never be afraid to show your emotions. Sometimes crying is what you need to feel better. Don't be embarrassed to cry during a Disney movie (I mean, come on, those things are SAD). Don't be afraid to mourn. Crying is not a sign of weakness and you are allowed to cry.

16. Life moves on.

With or without you, time doesn't stop or slow down for anyone. I have learned to live every moment to the fullest and truly embrace what life throws at me. Don't perseverate on the past. Focus on the now. Learning to be present and not over think things has taken a lot of practice. I'm a better person for learning to let go. Staying angry at the past takes so much energy that it can consume you. You are only hurting yourself in the end.

17. Treat yo' self.

Sometimes you need that manicure or glass of wine with your best friend. Take care of yourself. Eat good food. Enjoy great company. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing to do. You don't have to justify it to anyone. If you need a personal day, take it. If you need to drive an hour because you miss your best friend, do it.

18. Love your siblings.

My sisters are the greatest friends I could have ever asked for. I don't know what I've done in this life to have sisters as wonderful as mine. Those two girls are my entire world. Cherish your siblings; hold them close. What I wouldn't give to live back at home and be there when they get off the school bus just to ask them about how their day was. Siblings are some of the best gifts in this world. Love them like it.

19. Stick your toes in the sand.

I am most at peace when I am in South Florida sticking my toes in the burning sand. I've learned that the beach gives you much more than a tan. The beach is a blank space, a clean slate. The water washes away the sand as the waves come across the shore, but it also washes away all the sand in your head clearing your mind.

20. You're never too old.

I wish I would have learned this one sooner. You aren't too old to hold your mom's hand or kiss your dad goodbye as he drops you off at school. You are never too old to sit on your mom's lap and cry because you've had a bad day. I wish I knew this in high school and didn't try to push my parents away because I thought I was too old. You're never too old for Disney movies and you're never too old to build a fort in your living room.

21. You have a purpose.

Everyone on this earth is meant to do something. We all have a fire in our soul that drives us to be the people we are. I've learned to embrace that fire and be passionate about the people and things I love and care about. Sometimes, when it feels the weight of the world is crushing you, remember you are loved and here for a reason. Whatever that reason is for you, believe in yourself.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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