I know what you’re thinking, not another list from a twenty-something that has yet to experience life. Twenty-one years may not be that long, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned a lot. This list may not reflect everyone’s 21 years of life, but it sums up mine pretty damn well and if it helps someone else along the way, well hey, that’s cool too.
1. You don’t know everything. As the miss-know-it-all of my friend group in high school (and maybe even still a little bit today) this has been a tough pill to swallow. What I thought I knew 100 percent, I maybe only know a quarter of and what I thought I kind of knew, I definitely don’t know at all.
2. No matter how much you claim you want to be single, you will find yourself going back to that one guy or looking for a new one. I pride myself on being a “strong, independent black woman who doesn’t need a man,” but sometimes, I just want to cuddle, is that too much to ask?
3. Your parents were right about (almost) everything, especially your mom. I remember rolling my eyes just four years ago at everything my parents told me, turns out they know what they’re talking about, who knew?
4. Your angry teenage poetry is not going to get you famous. However, keep writing, one day, you may find something that sticks.
5. Sometimes, you just need a mental health day. So maybe the mental health weeks I took freshman year of college were not a good idea, but sometimes your body and mind need to relax and a weekend just doesn’t always cut it. Listen to your body; the world won’t come crashing down if you stay in bed every once in a while.
6. When one door closes, another one opens. Seriously, whether you’re religious, believe in karma, or just genuinely want to hear something comforting when you’re cut off from something you swore was for you, don’t fret, there’s something better around the corner.
7. As a society we have come a long way, but we still have so much further to go. And the only way to make it better is by small changes every day. Educate yourself, stop saying things like “that’s so gay,” elevate your diction, question things.
8. Your body, your rules. As cliché as it may sound, once you learn to love your body and all your flaws, no one can hold it against you.
9. Counting calories never lasts. The freshman 15 was so real and while counting every calorie in every grain of rice was a good idea in theory, it didn’t last very long, whoops.
10. The hookup will almost never become your boyfriend or girlfriend. And for those of you that have anecdotal proof that this isn’t true, I hate you congrats.
11. There is nothing quite like living alone. Two words: no pants. EVER.
12. Staying in touch with high school friends is not as easy as you’d think, but the ones that are supposed to stay in your life, will. Friendship is a two way street, remember that, but also remember, it’s okay if some fall by the wayside. It happens.
13. Looks aren’t everything. Embrace that shitty haircut, laugh off the bad spray tan and upgrade to a bigger jean size, the good news is, it’s temporary.
14. It’s okay to change your mind about your dream school. This one is selfish, but I wish I would’ve had the guts to transfer after I realized my dream school was no longer the right fit. Life is too short to be unhappy.
15. It’s also okay to change your major; it doesn’t decide your path in life anyway. Okay, so maybe if you want to go to med school or even law school your undergraduate degree matters a little bit, but don’t stress too much over what title will be on your degree at the end of four years, it doesn’t mean you’re bound to that career forever.
16. Numbers do not define who you are. Not your GPA, not the amount of money in your bank account, not the number on the scale. You are so much more than numbers.
17. It’s okay to be guarded, but you’ve got to trust someone. Life can get really lonely when you’ve got no one you feel you can depend on.
18. That feeling that you get when everyone is in a relationship and you’re single, it’s all in your head. It’s not the end of the world, you won’t actually be forever alone and you should just be happy for your friends and family who are happily taken.
19. Your best friend isn’t the person you talk to every day or the one that knows useless stuff about you. Your best friend is the person you can always count on, whether their down the street or across the globe, it’s the person you can call and vent to at 3 a.m., who will listen to you cry about the boy that broke your heart for the hundredth time and then dish out some serious tough love and tell you to move on.
20. A Netflix binge and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s will do wonders sometimes. I mean seriously, this past Valentine’s Day was a blast thanks to my old pals B&J.
21. You’ve got a lot of growing up to do and A LOT more to learn. Sure I’ve learned some tough life lessons thus far, but with graduation a little more than a year away and the summer on the horizon, I’m bound to learn a lot more as I start a new journey. So far, so good.