21 Things You Need To Learn About Life Before Turning 21


1. Your dreams won’t chase you.

You aren’t their priority. In fact, your dreams most likely occupy the musings of so many others, you’ll be hard-pressed to wake up and see them waiting on your bedside table. Don’t play hard to get with your dreams. Find an accomplice if you have to. Compete with yourself. Forget about the reverie all together, and get moving.

2. It’s okay to feel alone.

Everyone else does too. So seize your vulnerability. Bask in the glory of your own reflection and reflect within yourself.

3. People can be really, really mean.

Even if you’re a really, really nice person. Benevolence is a rarity, and certain people get swallowed up by the envy and disdain of who they wish they were. So if you’re at the receiving end, just smile. You’re so special that someone made the extra effort to hurt you.

4. Inspiration is everywhere.

But it’s probably not found in your iPhone screen. Look up at the world and away from your feet, and you might find yourself overwhelmed with zeal and a new, visceral connection with your oh-so typical surroundings.

5. Call your parents.

Don’t see it as an obligation. Whether you live a street or a timezone away, family should always remain a priority.

6. Don’t settle.

Not on that guy, or that job, or that city, or that haircut. Just don’t.

7. But don’t throw everything away.

Don’t scram at the sight of something that scares you. Don’t lose hope because of a blip. Give a second chance, but never a third.

8. Don’t live off of skittles and toaster strudel.

This may be the most difficult notion to grapple with. But maybe, hopefully, we’ll all live a few years longer with this mentality.

9. Trust your instincts.

ESP is real. Our senses are smarter than we give them credit for.

10. Actively give.

Deliberately choose to give small, selfless, unrequited acts of kindness. Give hugs. Give a smile. Give flowers. Just because. Be the sunlight in the storm of someone’s day.

11. Learn a language.

It’s 2015, we shouldn’t all be catering to solely the English language. Step outside the parameters our culture has put us in and learn how to speak Arabic, or Chinese, or French, or dog speak.

12. Learn an instrument.

The days of being a band geek are over, and no one will make fun of you anymore. So go ransack your parent’s attic for that trombone or keyboard and flaunt your musical talents with a fervor.

13. Don’t waste the weekend.

What exactly are you accomplishing by sleeping in until 1pm? Set your alarm for 7 AM instead and get brunch with an old friend. Then strap on some boots and take your dog for a hike. Find a new recipe and bake your boyfriend’s mom a batch of cookies. Attend a local festival. Peruse a bookstore or boutique. Go to the bars. Go to the gym. Go to a soup kitchen. Get out of bed.

14. Be friends with someone different from you.

They will be the best investment you could make in your development, awareness, aptitude, and love of life. They will make you rethink your privilege. Choose to make your circle as colorful and cultural as possible and you’ll be a better person because of it.

15. Drink water.

Ditch the latte and you’ll make wiser decisions at your next meal, your skin will glow, you’ll have more energy, and you won’t crash due to a caffeine dependency at every hour. It’s one of those win-win situations.

16. Travel.

You knew this was coming. Renew that passport. Study abroad. Work abroad. Just live abroad, even if for a week. Your company needs a presence in Japan for the next year? Raise your hand and relocate- because really, why not?

17. Develop your photographs.

A tangible, visual memory is worth so much more than that 24-hour Snapchat story. So go stock up on some Fujifilm.

18. Pick people’s brains.

Trying to join an advertising agency? Send a marketing connoisseur a LinkedIn request, and ask them to grab coffee with you. Want to become a psychiatric nurse? Call up your friend’s mom and ask to shadow them at the hospital.

19. Write three things you’re grateful for every night.

My camp counselor once gave the best advice; get a journal and examine the elements in your life that you couldn’t live without. Take time to think what it would be like without those people, or chances, or freedoms. Seek insight in the value of your education, career, relationships, talents, and capricious consciousness.

20. Read a book instead of your Twitter feed.

Disconnect from the befuddled, fabricated land of social media and read some Hemingway, or Vonnegut, or Bradbury. Get lost in a fictional story that has more validity than those filtered self portraits and vain proclamations.

21. Forget about yourself.

Just forget. Forget about your cravings, forget about your complaints, forget about what you think everyone thinks about you. Detach and shrug off that hedonistic pursuit of happiness, and start seeing things through the eyes of those around you.