Today is my last day of being 21 years old. This past year was one of the most heartbreaking, eye-opening, life-changing and beautiful years of my life. Everything that happened this past year, good or bad, was a life lesson that I will carry with me into 22. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this past year, and have laid down the most important things I’ve learned.

21. You can miss something and not want it back. – Oftentimes, I find myself thinking about dissolved friendships and relationships. I often ask myself “What would I do if they came back and apologized? Could things go back to the way they were? I gave them everything, do I even have anything left to give?”

I’ve always believed that time heals all wounds. If friendships or relationships are meant to be rekindled, then in due time, they will.

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Courtesy of Home Box Office
20. Just because you’re legally allowed to drink doesn’t mean you always should. – While it may be exciting to be able to order drinks, keep in mind that as an adult, you have other expenses. However, there is nothing wrong with a good old bar hop from time to time.

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Courtesy of Columbia Broadcasting System

19. The long duration of time that someone has been in your life does not make their prescence any more significant than that of someone you have known briefly . – If someone in your circle does not lift you up, add value to your life, or inspire you to do better, it is perfectly okay to cut them off. Even if it’s your childhood best friend. Some people I’ve known for a few months have added more value to my life than some of the friends I grew up with.

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Courtesy of Warner Brothers

18. Exercise is essential. – It really bugs me when people make jokes about not going to the gym, or just staying in and eating pizza. Waking up early and going to the gym every morning for an hour has had a significant effect on my overall happiness and wellbeing.

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Courtesy of Disney
17. Make lots of friends, but keep a small circle. – 21 is the age when having an established life plan is more important than ever. You want to make friends with people in your classes or within your major, but you also want a group of close friends you can keep in touch with after you graduate.

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Courtesy of Warner Brothers
16. Have a credit card, but only use it in emergencies. – Last year, I was approved for my first credit card, and I told myself I was only going to use it in case of an emergency. Somehow, I managed to get derailed and spent money on shit I really did not need. I accumulated several hundred dollars in debt, but was luckily able to pay it off recently (Praise God for tax returns).

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Courtesy of New Line Cinema
15. When opportunity permits, travel. – Throughout my college career, I’ve made multiple trips to Austin, San Antonio, Houston, College Station, Los Angeles, and New York. Travel is essential at a young age, especially if you are wanting to relocate after you graduate. The worst thing to do would be to settle down somewhere and end up hating it. Traveling enables you to get a feel for each city you visit.

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Courtesy of A24
14. No two people have the same hearts. – The unfortunate truth is that you can prioritize someone, answer their calls immediately, and put forth all of your effort towards them, and it still wouldn’t be enough for them. I do, however, believe that there is someone out there for everybody. Patience is key.

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Courtesy of MTV
13. Keep regular contact with your parents, but don’t call them every day. – My parents and I text each other frequently, but I never really call them unless I have extra time. Part of growing up is learning how to function without being dependent on your parents.

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Courtesy of Comedy Central
12. Stay current. – I try to spend at least an hour each day catching up on the news by reading articles from various outlets including Huffington Post, New York Times, and USA Today. By keeping up with what’s going on in the world, you are able to gather facts and form opinions, which is necessary in order to be able to sustain conversations.

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11. Drink more water.– Everyone should be drinking sixty four fluid ounces of water everyday. I notice that when I drink the right amount, my hair line appears fuller and my skin clears up. I also feel a lot less lethargic and a lot more rejuvenated.

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Courtesy of AMC
10. Spend your money wisely – If you’re reading this, I assume you’re 21, or among that age demographic. By now, you’ve probably accepted that you have very little money to throw around. When you have a little bit of extra money, spend it on experiences. Groupon offers many deals on things such as skydiving, admission to museums, concerts, and more.

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9. Coconut oil works wonders. – Enough said.

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12. Stay current. – I try to spend at least an hour each day catching up on the news by reading articles from various outlets including Huffington Post, New York Times, and USA Today. By keeping up with what’s going on in the world, you are able to gather facts and form opinions, which is necessary in order to be able to sustain conversations.

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7. Get a LinkedIn profile. Like, now. – The sooner you create a page on LinkedIn, the sooner you can begin building connections with people in the field you aspire to work in.

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Courtesy of NBC

6. Sleep on a schedule. – As a college student, aiming for eight hours of sleep per night is unrealistic. However, I do try to be in bed by midnight and awake by 6:00 everyday in order to maintain my circadian rhythm. I’d say that six hours of sleep is a fairly decent amount.

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Courtesy of Disney

5. Support a cause. – Think of a social issue that’s important to you and donate to a charity or organization related to that issue. Also, look on Change.org to find petitions regarding issues of importance to you. Instead of torrenting, buy your music and movies as a means of supporting the arts. Every little bit helps.

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4. Read for fun. – I find it a bit abhorrent when people say that they don’t like to read. It’s something I’ve never understood. I mean, there are books about any subject you can imagine, so you’re bound to find something that interests you if you make a trip to Barnes & Noble. If anything, I wish I had more time to read for fun. Plus, a lot of films and television programs frequently make references to classic works of literature, so by being well-read, you understand the allusions or jokes more.

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Courtesy of Comedy Central

3. It’s okay (and sometimes necessary) to be alone sometimes. – Anyone who knows me knows that I am the complete opposite of antisocial. I enjoy being around my friends and loved ones, however, sometime, I do need time to gather my thoughts, set my goals, think about how I’m going to accomplish said goals, and also just to recharge. It’s also opportune time for me to reflect on the actions and behaviors of others and to decided whether or not it’s healthy for me to keep them in my life.

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Courtesy of NBC

2. Stop making self-deprecating comments and focus on your own accopmplishments. – In this age of social media, it’s easy to compare yourself to others. Oftentimes, one may look at their peers and see that someone landed their dream job, or that one of their high school friends recently got engaged. If you find yourself feeling less-than, just take some time to reflect on everything you’ve accomplished, then continue to work to achieve your goals. Remember, your dreams won’t work unless you do.

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Courtesy of NBC

1. Never change for anyone but yourself. – Everything that happens to us shapes us into who we are. The people who are meant to be in your life will love you exactly the way you are. I am thankful for everyone in my life and I am thankful for everything I have been through that has gotten me to this point. I am taking everything I’ve learned this past year, and using it to build a happy, healthy, successful 22nd year.

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Courtesy of Big Machine Records

 

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