21 Lessons I've Learned Since Turning 21

21 Of The Most Important Things I've Learned Since Turning 21

I'd like to think I'm wiser now. Is that how it works?

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I've had my heart broken, made new friends and have gotten to explore some pretty cool cities, along with numerous other things.

I've learned that you have to do what's best for you, that the word family doesn't mean anything and, most importantly, I've learned how to start loving myself again.

Along the way, I've learned numerous other things, but here are 21 of the most important things I've learned since turning 21.


1. You don't need alcohol to have fun

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I had no interest in drinking whatsoever, even when everyone in high school was doing it, but the fact that I have medical issues that prevent me from drinking may have something to do with it, too. When I turned 21, I was more excited about not having to pay a surcharge at concerts anymore.

2. Your friends won't always have free time

We're all getting older. We all have jobs, sometimes with opposite schedules. Basically, when you're free, your friends won't be. You won't get to see each other as often as you want.

3. The gym isn't all that bad

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Long story short, I have cerebral palsy, so basically, my hips, legs and ankles don't work as well as they should, and that has prevented me from exercising and losing weight like I want to. A few months ago, I got a gym membership with my best friend and started walking on the treadmill. My legs didn't fall off and I didn't die, so I kept going back and discovered that I kinda like it.

4. "Family" doesn't mean anything

Some members of my family haven't been treating me, my mom, dad or brother very well. Sometimes, we feel excluded, even at FAMILY events. I learned the hard way that just because you're related doesn't always mean you feel as if you're apart of the family.

5. Do what's best for you

YOU know what's best for YOU. Your family and friends may think they're trying to help you, and they may truly be trying to, but only you know what's best for you. If you need to drop a class, do it. If you need to go to therapy, do it. Listen to yourself.

6. It's not the end of the world when someone stops talking to you

Whether that be a friend, someone you see in passing at school or a coworker. There's likely a reason, big or small, that they stopped talking to you. But, life goes on with or without them.

7. Don't let anyone tell you how to spend your money

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Seriously, don't. It's your hard-earned money. If you want to buy a designer purse or a meet and greet for your favorite band, do it.

8. Don't be so focused on falling in love

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At some point, almost all of my friends had boyfriends or a boy they were talking to and I felt like I needed to do the same when I knew damn well that I was in no position to be doing so. I realized, thankfully, that I needed to focus on myself before I can give someone else attention.

9. You have to love yourself before you can love someone else

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Cliche, I know, but it's true. I went through some things last summer and fall that really brought me down. I felt like I was at my lowest point, I didn't love the skin I was in and I didn't really see a reason to stay alive anymore. Long story short, take time to love yourself. How can you love someone else when you can't even love yourself?

10. Buy the damn concert tickets

If you don't, they'll sell out and you'll regret it. Your money will come back, the memories won't.

11. Your mom really is your best friend

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My mom has helped me through so many things this year. I'm surprised she's not tired of me yet. Shout out out to you, mommy. Love you.

12. At the end of the day, your dog will always be happy to see you

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No matter how bad it was, seeing the tail flap back and forth and them jumping up and down makes it all so much better.

13. Don't make promises you can't keep

If you know you're not going to be able to or you do not want to do something, don't promise someone that you'll do it. It gets their hopes up and then makes them feel bad about themselves when you don't pull through. I'm guilty of this, as terrible as that sounds. But don't do it to other people.

14. You can't always trust people

People don't always keep your secrets, come through on a promise or come to your rescue when you need someone to vent to. If you're unsure about someone, it's best not to get your hopes up.

15. Travel more

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Usually, the only time I travel is when I'm going to a concert, but recently, I fell in love with Indianapolis and am already counting down the days until my next concert there, which is only a few weeks away. I made it a point to get out and explore more cities. I have so many on my list.

16. Don't keep your feelings bottled up

One day, someone or something may push you over the edge and you'll do or say something you don't mean. Talk about your feelings with someone you trust.

17. Tell your friends how you really feel

If you don't like what they said, tell them. If you're feeling excluded from the group, tell them. Don't let their potential reaction make you feel as if your feelings are invalid.

18. Don't max out your credit card

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You'll think it's fine when your creditor increases your limit from $300 to $500, but you'll be sad every month when all you can afford is the monthly payment.

19. Spend more time with your parents

You're getting older, they're getting older. Nobody's getting older and you really don't know how much time you have left on this Earth. Watch Family Feud with them, eat dinner with them...trust me, you won't regret it.

20. Get some sleep

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If you're only sleeping 4-5 hours a night, it WILL catch up to you. Aim for 8. Always.

21. Drink more water

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Your kidneys will thank you.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

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To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.

Sincerely,

A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.

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Seniors,

I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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