Turning 21 means something different for everybody. You have those that take it as a fresh start, the ones who go about their day like any other day that came before, or the ones who wake up the day after not knowing anything that happened. However, with my own 21st birthday creeping up around the corner, I have started to think a lot about my life and the lessons I have learned along the way. So before I dive nose first into what others like to call "the real world," here are just some of the things I have learned from life in the last 20 years.

1. People are not going to like you, and that's okay

You are going to run into people who don't respect you or even like you, and that's okay. That says nothing about the type of person you are. As long as you keep being kind and respectful to those around you, good people will always surround you.

2. Putting yourself first is not a selfish thing to do

Whether that means your education, your mental health, or a career plan, if you are doing what is best for you and your future, real friends and family will always understand.

3. Mental health trumps education any day of the week

It's okay for school to get overwhelming sometimes. It's up to you to decide how to push through those moments. Whether that means taking an extra year to ensure the best grades, or powering through it at all cost. Find out what works for you.

4. It's okay to not have a plan every once in a while

Going with the flow may be your only option at times and that's okay. Embrace the change in scenery and take some pictures along the way.

5. There is no such thing as being too safe

Don't feel embarrassed or stupid for being cautious, but do not let it consume your whole life. Follow your instincts and you will maneuver around flawlessly.

6. However, it's not a bad thing to let loose sometimes

Surrounding yourself with people you trust in a familiar and comfortable environment is the perfect place to allow your walls to fall and have a little fun.

7. Dress to impress only yourself

Stop worrying about if your clothes are out of style or how much the prince tag says, dress in clothes that make you and only you as happy as you can possibly be.

8. Falling apart sometimes does not make you weak

Everyone has bad days. Take those days to recollect, think about what you want and what you need to do to make those things happen.

9. Mental illnesses make you stronger sometimes

As someone who struggles with severe anxiety, I have found that the way I do things to avoid bad anxiety attacks actually make me feel more confident and secure.

10. Being picky about friends and significant others is never a bad thing

Being picky is never a bad thing. Trust your gut feeling because it is rarely ever wrong.

11. You really do have to love yourself before you can fully love someone else

Self care is important and it is hard to give that love and affection to someone when you don't give it to yourself. This only hurts you, your partner, and the relationship.

12. Stepping out of your comfort zone will almost always lead you to exciting new things

It can be the scariest and hardest thing to do in the entire world. But, as I have said a thousand times throughout this article, trust your gut and take that big leap off the high dive. The water is just fine.

Twenty-one can be the mark of the most exciting times of your life or some of the hardest times. Either way, everything will always turn out for the better as long as you remember to take care of yourself, keep your goals in mind, and always keep moving forward.