21 things I learned by 21

It was my birthday this week and I feel like I haven’t aged a day since 17. I always wondered as a kid what I’d be doing around this time and now I know. Crazy to think how we never fathomed life in a pandemic and now we’re trying to make the best of it. I had a fun day of staying in planned out for myself to celebrate the milestone of being around for over two decades and decided to reflect on life along the way. This one’s going to be long, but I poured my heart out into what I want to say. I don’t have everything figured out but here’s what I know…

  1. Having a proper skincare routine is essential: As someone who never really struggled with acne, I never really had a proper skincare routine. To put it lightly, I didn’t care about the odd bump on my face. But I have learned since that skincare isn’t just about your skin. The routine is therapeutic. And you get to have a flawless complexion so it's a win-win!

  2. Physical activity is more important than you realize: This is so important. It took me struggling with my mental health to realize it. But get out and get moving. It makes all the difference.

  3. Sometimes friends aren’t forever, and that’s okay: In high school, I used to think I’d keep in touch with everyone for the rest of my life. But you realize that you’re friends with some people because you see them every day. And the moment that ends, the friendship fades too. But that’s okay. You have the memories to cherish them by and they’re always there for you to reach out to.

  4. Learn to cook at least one thing really well: Moving for college made me realize what a terrible cook I was. But learning to cook chicken and rice and my dad’s avocado salad recipe ensured I never went to bed hungry.

  5. Planning is important but doesn’t always pan out: I love to plan. I love staying organized and it kills me when things don’t work out. But I have realized that life is unpredictable and things will happen as they please. You can only control what’s in your control. The rest is inevitable.

  6. It’s okay to fail every now and then: Trailing off from my previous point, this is another important realization. Failure is a part of living and the ups wouldn’t be as sweet with no downs. Chumbawumba said it best- “I get knocked down, but I get up again”.

  7. Loving yourself is essential before you can love others: Going through therapy taught me that it’s hard to truly cherish others if you don’t personally feel deserving enough of cherishing.

  8. Enjoy your solitude: Sitting in silence shouldn’t be hard. Enjoy your own company. Stare out the window and think of nothing. Feel your surroundings. It’s meditative.

  9. Being a morning person is actually wonderful: Ever since I started waking up at 7.30 am every day I seem to have more time to do things. I feel more motivated overall and my quality of sleep has improved drastically. I am also not nervous about missing classes and don’t have a blaring alarm disturbing me as I wake up anymore.

  10. Stress is a choice: The outcome is assured regardless of if you stress through it or not. So why bother with getting heated up? Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not totally zen, but I try my best to realize that stress is temporary and a choice. Take a deep breath, and move on.

  11. Never miss an opportunity to tell someone how much you appreciate them: Life is unpredictable and you never know what’s to happen. So it’s best that those you care about, know it for sure.

  12. Don’t compare: Everyone’s fighting their own battles and living their own life. You can’t compare wins and losses or pain or emotions. You’re walking your own path and the only person to compare with should be yourself.

  13. It’s okay to ask for help: Asking for help does not indicate weakness but on the contrary, is a sign of emotional maturity. You understand that it may be impossible to get through something on your own. But there are always people around you who care and can help.

  14. Listen, like actually LISTEN: Actively listen. It helps you remember tiny details and form meaningful and lasting relationships.

  15. Forgive others, and yourself: Holding a grudge is hard work and takes a lot of energy. Energy that you shouldn’t have to spare for such a meaningless task. It might be difficult but it's best to let go.

  16. Living in the moment is very rewarding: As much as I love plans, I do occasionally let loose. But things don’t instantly come crashing down around me. The moment I realized that I learned that living in the moment is where it's at. It's cheesy but it’s true.

  17. Little things, matter much: Make sure to get enough sleep, smile at a stranger, say please and thank you, call your parents, eat fruit, get creative, belt out a song.

  18. Everyone struggles: It's tough to know who’s going through what. It’s easy to be kind.

  19. You can’t please everyone: And that absolutely fine. Opinions are subjective and you need to stay true to yourself.

  20. Beer is expensive: $15 for six beers?? It’s a hard knock life (jk).

  21. Life is actually wonderful: There is so much to be thankful for. I’m only 21 and I have decades left to go. I’m taking it one day at a time and there’s so much beauty all around me.