This Is Exactly What 21 Taught Me

What has being 21 taught me? As I watch the minutes inch closer to 12 a.m., I’ve decided to use this time to reflect on what this year has given me.

I remember almost exactly a year ago today, I thought turning 21 was such a huge milestone. I thought this would be the year of living as a “real” adult… and then Covid-19 shut the world down. However, being 21 has allowed me to open my eyes to the realities of the world in many new ways.

I have realized that not everything is as it seems on Instagram and that everyone is struggling with something that they don’t talk about. 21 has shown me the true meaning of quality over quantity. I have found my true friends, the people who are there to support me regardless of how down I may have felt a particular month.

21 has been a year of unknowns. It’s probably the least certain I have ever felt about the direction of my life and where I am going to end up—and 21 has also shown me that’s what being 21 is. There is so much beauty in the unknown, as scary as it feels in the moment, because as each year passes, less is unknown and our paths are more etched out.

21 is the time of not having a plan and just winging it. If it happens, it was meant to be, and if not, oh well—you’re only 21. Being 21 is the time for firsts and also the time for lasts. 21 has been the year of realization. Due to the pandemic, I was almost forced into really digging deep and recognizing all of my blessings and the beautiful people who surround me on a daily basis. I took the time to appreciate the place each of these people hold in my life and to spend more quality time with them. Being 21 did not mean clubbing night after night, or taking shots for the first time, but rather was a time of learning how to bake fresh banana bread and binge watching Netflix shows with my parents.

21 opened my eyes to the realities of the world. Everything is not what you expect—you will still make mistakes even though you’re now an adult, you will still care about your first love (as much as you convinced yourself you were over it), you will learn to truly appreciate the advice your parents offer you and maybe even ask for it sometimes. 21 will allow you to have the space to feel more independent, but to also make your decisions more wisely, because they matter now more than ever.

As I spend the last 15 minutes of my life being 21 years old, I finally feel content with the place my life is at right now. It is okay that I am graduating and still do not know where I’ll be living in August. It is okay that I don’t have the rest of my life planned out yet, and most importantly, I have achieved a relationship with myself that has surpassed my wildest expectations. I have learned how to push my mind to reach goals I never thought were attainable for myself. I have felt proud of my accomplishments for the first time in my life and have cried tears of shock that I did it. On my own. For myself and for my future.

So to anyone reading this that is currently 21 or is about to turn 21, enjoy every moment. You can never replace memories, and the ones you will make at the age of 21 are some of the best you’ll make in your life (just take it from me, I’ve lived a whole 21 years!).

Enjoy every hug, every conversation, every first, and even the lasts, for only better is to come.

As I wave goodbye to 21, I look forward to all the lessons and adventures 22 will bring me.

Personal Development

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