21 Of The Most Meaningful Lessons I’ve Learned By 21

This year I turned 21. Now while I can’t say that by this age I am any sort of wise philosopher whose theories you should shape your life around, I can say that all of my personal experiences up until this point have really started to shape who I am, and I think that deserves some type of merit. I can’t help but realize that everything I do typically produces some type of lesson by which I can learn incredible things about myself and the people around me. These are some of the most meaningful.

1. Love yourself, before anyone else.

As selfish as it sounds, you come before anyone else. Love yourself and everything that you stand for. Be proud of your accomplishments and how far you’ve come. Be at peace with how you think and how you look.

2. Value your friends and family.

Your family and friends are a blessing. Treasure them and what they do for you. Make sure they always know they are loved.

3. People will come and go. That’s how life works.

One of my hardest struggles in the past few years has been trying to keep every one of my friends in my life. Here’s what I learned, people are going to come and go as often as the wind blows. If you find yourself chasing after ANYONE, it is not worth it to keep them in your life. Let life take its natural course, don’t fight it. Growing apart from people is never as bad as it seems. As much as I wanted to keep all of my high-school friends by my side, that type of balance is damn near impossible. I spent years fighting for people that hardly gave me the time of day in return. Here’s a general rule: if you haven’t heard from them in one month, it’s time to move on. No one is so busy that they can’t talk to someone for an entire month. Don’t worry though, the few people that stay by your side into your older years are the truly important ones.

4. Don’t become obsessed with your body.

In an age where media and society are constantly telling us how we should look, one of the boldest things you can do is be happy with who you are. Exercise is important, and so is your health, but do not let it define you. I went through a stage in my life where I was incredibly self-conscious and desperately wanted to be thin because all of my friends seemed to be. A daily 3 hour session at the gym and a diet consisting of only spinach and peanut butter was the only thing that allowed me to have my goal body. But at the end of the day I really wasn’t that happy. To be honest I really just wanted to binge watch Netflix and eat pizza and ice cream. I was wasting my life away in the gym while I could’ve been experiencing so many other things. Don’t worry so much about your weight. If you feel that your weight is what defines you, then you are hanging out with the wrong people. If you have a beer gut or cellulite, who cares! Heck, I have ‘em too, let’s be friends. Victoria’s Secret models were born that way, just remember that.

5. People are going to hurt you.

People are going to hurt you, and they’re probably going to hurt you a lot. Don’t take it personally. Remember that how people treat you is a reflection of themselves, not you.

6. Don’t rush love.

If there’s one thing your patient for in your entire life, let it be love. For years I was a hopeless romantic who inevitably thought I was doomed to end up alone. But rushing and forcing love only left me with constant let-downs. You will encounter dozens of people who are nowhere near your mindset when it comes to love. In fact, 70% of the people you meet are most likely just going to want a night in bed with you. Don’t assume that everyone is ready for relationships. Some people aren’t ready until they turn 30. I promise you if you focus on yourself, love will find you. Once you meet the right person, you will know.

7. Its ok to not know what you’re doing. You’re not alone.

How about this: I’m graduating college in 6 months and still have NO idea what I’m doing when I’m out. Don’t let people make you feel like shit about not knowing what you’re doing. Heck, I’ve learned everything in college BUT how to survive in the real world… doesn’t that seem a little ironic and counter-productive? Society tries to force us all down the same pre-determined path… college… internship… 9-5 office job blah blah blah. Don’t dive into a job you hate just because you feel like you have to right out of college. I know I sure won’t be doing that. Just take your time.

8. Find your passion.

Find something you love to do and do it all the time. I eventually found that my passion was in photography and the outdoors and I’ve never been the same since then. It’s my outlet in life. It brings me so much happiness. I encourage everyone to find their passion and get lost in it.

9. Don’t let money dictate your life.

Money is important, don’t get me wrong, but it should never rule your life. As long as you make enough money to live, you’ll be fine. Don’t worry about what you have to show for it. Once you start worrying too much about material possessions, you lose a grasp on reality. Having a lot of money will not make you happier. If you want to feel rich, count all of the things you have that money can’t buy.

10. Get out and adventure.

Even if it’s only one day a month, go outside and see the world. This past year I started making an effort to explore a new place at least once a week and I’ve had a blast. I guarantee there are tons of places right in your own city that you’ve never even heard about. Make it your goal to explore somewhere new even if it’s once a month, the experience is much more rewarding than you think. (The cool thing about this is that it’s virtually always free)

11. Don’t hate.

Don’t hate, literally. Hatred is the heaviest baggage you could ever choose to hold onto. It takes too much energy to hate people. Just let it go. If they piss you off that badly, then just pretend they don’t exist.

12. Be f*cking weird.

Being weird is way too much fun to avoid. So f*ck it. Be weird. And find other weird people and then bask in each other’s weirdness.

13. Get tattoos.

If someone treats you differently because you have tattoos, then they’re the one with the problem. Your body is YOURS and only yours. So do whatever you want with it. I have 6 tattoos plus a half sleeve and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. They say your body is a temple and I say decorate the crap out of that temple. Tattoos are such a cool unique way to express yourself. I promise your parents will forgive you eventually.

14. Spend time with yourself.

Learn how to be at peace when you’re alone. Take time to just be.

15. Words mean EVERYTHING.

Be careful how you use your words. Yes, freedom of speech is a right but don’t go abusing it. You never know how someone will be affected by what you say.

16. Learn to forgive.

There is nothing worse than holding a grudge. Everyone makes mistakes, some more than others. But like I said earlier, don’t hold onto hate, allow yourself to grant forgiveness to people. It doesn’t mean you have to welcome them back into your life with open arms, just make sure they know that they are forgiven. They won’t forget it. Doing so will also take an astronomical amount of stress off your back.

17. FOMO is an irrational fear.

Stop being so worried about what everyone else is doing when they go out. There will always be another party. You don’t have to make it to every single one, I swear no one will think any less of you. Taking 6 shots and funneling 10 beers might seem like the fun thing to do every Thursday through Sunday but trust me, you won’t regret staying in to order Chinese food and binge watch Netflix either. There is a lot more to life than partying. It’s always awesome to avoid that awful hangover too.

18. Get more sleep.

As enticing as it may be to stay up till 1AM browsing every single social media site known to man, your body will thank you if you get a full nights rest. I used to stay up late every night doing pointless crap and then felt like a zombie straight out of the Walking Dead the next day. I sleep from roughly 9:30PM-9:30AM every night now and I feel like a million bucks.

19. Cook more. Eat more.

I didn’t realize how much fun cooking was until I tried it. Now I cook all the time and the pay-off is unreal. The pay-off being food… amazing food. Cheers to food.

20. Swallow your pride.

Don’t let your ego rule your whole life. Learn to be humble and gracious with your actions.

21. It’s the little things that are the most important.

If there’s one thing you take from this article, it’s this: The little things in life are what mean the most. Over the years I have taught myself to become more conscious and grateful of the little things that I experience. Whether it be an entire night laughing your ass off with your best friend or watching the sunset over the beach, these are the things that will bring you the purest joy. Appreciate them. Every moment is fleeting, so cherish it. TC mark

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