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21 Life Lessons to Know by the Time You’re 21

With age comes wisdom, right?


1. Your family is your backbone.

Appreciate everything your family has done for your own life, and recognize that, at the end of the day, your family will always be there for you.

2. Be honest. In every single way possible.

Your word is all you ever have. Prove to other’s that it always holds true. Once your word loses credibility, so does your reputation.

3. Own up to your slip ups

Hand in hand with always being honest, but if you’re wrong, admit it. Show that you respect others as much as you respect yourself, and show that you’re a genuine human. We all make mistakes, some worse than others, but damage is more salvageable when you admit your wrongdoings.

4. Appreciate your friends and always put effort into maintaining your friendships.

As you get older, this becomes more difficult, but with texting and social media, there’s no excuse for not reaching out to friends a few times a month, whether it be commenting on their photos, tagging them in memes/videos that remind you of them, or sending a snap. Aside from your family, your friends are the only other people you can count on for support, love, and good memories.

5. Do not neglect friends and family when in a relationship.

Let’s face it, as we get older, our romantic relationships may require more attention at some times, but do not let your friends or family feel irrelevant or neglected! If your relationship takes away from your other personal relationships, you’re probably dating the wrong person. And if you truly feel you will end up being together forever with your partner, then it should be even easier to spend time with friends and family—given you’ll have your entire lives to spend time with each other.

6. Limit your procrastinating.

We all do this, some more than others, but we’re all guilty of ignoring school assignments and other responsibilities in order to binge watch our favorite shows or go out partying. It happens, but shouldn’t happen often. Lower your stress and organize your life. You’ll notice better results on what you do while being able to keep stress levels low.

7. Be realistic but also optimistic.

Know what you are capable of achieving, but aim higher. Keep your expectations to what you know you are capable of, this way, if you cannot achieve your higher goal, you will still be content with your results. Push for better, but remain realistic of what you know is within your realm.

8. Take care of yourself, physically and mentally.

Go to the gym, work out in your room, eat as healthy as you can. Drink water, drink tea. Take mental health days every once in a while if you need to. You can’t do your best in anything if your health isn’t where it needs to be.

9. Prioritize and learn how to delegate your time.

While it is important to make time for yourself to work out, relax and have fun, make sure all other priorities like school or work are taken care of first.

10. Think long term.

Really think through everything you do. Start by being more conscious about day to day actions and what you say to others, as these things can have long term effects on your relationships and in your life. Work towards long term goals and do not let small setbacks discourage you.

11. Work hard now, play later.

Take those extra shifts at work and put the extra cash into savings. Stay those extra hours in the library or with a tutor, get higher grades, and reap the higher rewards from it. Put in the extra time while you’re at your youngest and healthiest so that, as you get older, you can take more time to relax.

12. Putting yourself first and being selfish are not the same thing.

When you put yourself first, you are taking care of yourself and doing what is in your best interest. When you are being selfish, you are completely focusing on only yourself at any expense to others. You should be prioritizing your needs, but not at the cost of others.

13. Hold yourself to high standards

Don’t allow yourself to slack off in school, work, or with your health. You should want to be the smartest, most hard working, healthiest version of yourself possible, and you can’t do that as long as you allow yourself to blow off school work, work hours, or let your health fall to the wayside. Respect yourself to the highest degree, and only allow those who respect you just as much to be in your life.

14. Set short term goals for long term benefits.

Think: if I study every day this week and get an A on the test, it’ll be easier for me to achieve the long term goal of graduating with a 4.0 GPA, or: if I work a few extra hours than what I normally do, I can afford to go on an awesome Spring Break vacation. This mindset can be applied to working out for your ideal body, school, work, relationships, literally anything.

15. Don’t wait for things to happen on their own.

If you really want something to happen, make it happen. Don’t sit around waiting for something you want to magically appear in your life. You like him? Tell him. You want a raise? Ask for it. You feel you deserve a higher grade on that paper you spent all week writing? Talk to your professor. You can’t expect change if you aren’t willing to make it happen.

16. Know when it is and isn’t okay to act childlike.

Knowing when it's okay to act immature and when it's not is something that can save you from a lot of trouble down the line, and no one wants to give a first impression of being immature.

17. Be active in your community.

Participate in anything that you can. Volunteer, join clubs/organizations, put yourself out there. It's rewarding and always looks good on a resume.

18. It’s a good thing to spend a weekend staying in every once and a while.

Your body will thank you, especially. Get some extra sleep, catch up on chores, relax. Give your liver a break every once and a while.

19. If there’s something about your life you’re not happy with and are capable of changing, change it.

Wallowing in self pity isn’t cute and making excuses as to why you can’t do things isn’t either. If you aren’t happy with your body, make time to work out and change your diet. If you’re not happy with your GPA, spend time figuring out why (skipping class too much, not doing homework, more test scores) and figure out how to fix it. Rarely are there things about ourselves that we cannot change if we really put the effort into changing it.

20. Set time aside to be alone.

Giving yourself alone time to unwind or reflect on your life is always beneficial. Life is eventful, and you’re never too young or too old to need to relax or spend time thinking about your recent life decisions.

21. Be happy with yourself.

It's okay to have insecurities and want to change things with yourself. Learn how to be happy with what you have in the moment. Things can always be better, but things can always be worse. Stay positive, work towards change, and appreciate the good things you have.

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