This is a very exciting post, because we are celebrating my 21st birthday! I wanted to bring 21 lessons I’ve learned in 21 years to you guys. This post will have a TON of value for you!
I know that being 21 really isn’t *that* old, but I like to think that I do offer some pretty solid nuggets of wisdom, lol.
Throughout my life, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and I’ve learned so stinkin’ much about living life as happily as possible and doing what’s best for me.
And I know that everyone else deserves to live their lives happily, too. I wanted to share these lessons with you because it’s my hope that you can learn these lessons NOW, rather than later.
These aren’t listed in any particular order, by the way. I tried doing that but gave up rather quickly, lol – they are all super and equally important!
Let’s jump into the 21 lessons I’ve learned in 21 years of this amazing life!
#1: You need to do what makes you happy and screw what anyone else thinks
I spent years of my life doing what I thought made me happy. Or doing what other people wanted me to do or what they thought would make me happy.
And that was miserable! I always felt like there was some part of me that was seriously unfulfilled and wasting away.
It wasn’t until I changed my major in college for the first time that I realized I needed to make my decisions for ME. No one else.
#2: Mental health is incredibly important and can be detrimental if ignored
I’ve never exactly been someone that ignored mental health or talked about it with stigma, but….I used to act like I was invincible to things like anxiety and depression.
My whole life I struggled with anxiety, but I liked to pretend that it wasn’t there. Truthfully, I didn’t put those pieces together until I got older and looked back on it.
However, that all changed for me in the fall semester of my sophomore year in college. I got very depressed, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
You can hear more about my exact experience with depression in this episode. I can tell you now, though, that going through that experience truly affected every aspect of my life.
It taught me so much about just how important mental health actually is, and now it’s a MAJOR part of my life in a bunch of different ways!
#3: You are not responsible for anyone else’s emotions
This lesson was very important for me to learn because I’m an empathetic person.
When you have empathy, it’s very very easy to take on someone else’s emotions as your own and act like they are your responsibility. But that’s not true! You can’t control how anyone else in the world feels. It’s not your job to do that.
I’m not saying that you should have a complete disregard for how someone else is feeling. (Truly – that’s not a good idea.)
But you have to learn to not take on the weight of their emotions, think that their emotions are something you caused or think that they are something you need to fix.
#4: You can’t go through everything in life alone
Once again, this didn’t click in my brain until I got depressed in college. (Lots of lessons came out of that experience, huh?)
I spent a majority of my life holding everything inside of myself and not telling other people about any part of what I was going through.
However, that all changed when I started going to therapy. Talking with my therapist did WONDERS for me on so many levels, but a big thing I learned from it was how to speak to other people in my life about what I was going through.
That’s something that I’ve taken with me since I left therapy. It’s very very rare that I keep things to myself now when I know that I need to talk about them. And that’s amazing!
Opening up about my emotions made me see that I can’t manage every hardship in life alone. Sometimes, you just need someone with a shoulder to cry on. No matter what, you can’t live your entire life alone.
Related: 4 Reasons Why You Need to Stop Holding in Your Emotions
#5: You don’t have to be working hard 24/7. Self-care is necessary
I’m a major workaholic. I’ve been that way my entire life. Honestly, I’m not convinced that I’ll ever be completely rid of that part of myself. I like to think that I’m in recovery for my workaholism, lol!
Anyway – the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve had to learn how to balance my work with self-care. I now know how important it is to take a step back and take some time for me!
Discovering that balance has been SO good, and I believe that it’s helped my overall health in a lot of great ways, too!
#6: Blood is not always thicker than water
I know that I’ve mentioned this plenty of times in my content, but I want to share it again. It’s a belief I have that’s very important to me.
I am someone that has had a lot of struggles with family members. I know that I’m not the only one in that regard, either.
Of course, I still love my family. I know that I didn’t grow up with the worst family in the world, by any means. But I’ve gone through enough to realize that blood is NOT always thicker than water.
I put a lot of emphasis, value, and effort into my friendships. And I’m not ashamed to say that. Without my friends, I have no idea where I would be today!
Ultimately, the value you place on friends and family should be entirely up to you, and the phrase “blood is always thicker than water” should be up to your discretion.
#7: You don’t need to be in contact with people every single day to stay close with them
My childhood best friends that I’ve known since I was 6 are people that I’ve only seen once a year for the last 10 years!
And no – we don’t talk every single day. But I truly don’t think it’s necessary! We are still very close, and when we do see each other, we pick back up right where we left off.
A lot of my friends and family are in that kind of position with me. I don’t speak to every person every day.
I think it ultimately just depends on how close you are with people. The deeper the connection with them, the less you need to chat all the time.
#8: It’s okay to change your mind
There is a lot of judgement and stigma from society about people changing their mind.
Whether they’re changing their mind about their passions, their paths in life or big decisions that can alter their future, the stigma is there.
I remember wanting to switch my major in college for the first time, and feeling so much pressure and worry about what people would think. I felt those same emotions (even more so) when I decided to take a leave of absence from school.
People tend to think that changing their minds about what they want is a bad thing. I’m telling you now – that’s not true!
You are an ever-evolving person, and when you evolve, your desires and values will also change. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks if you change your mind about something. Just go for it!
#9: Being a multi-passionate person is totally fine
Once again, there is a lot of pressure from the world to find the *one thing* you love and are good at. If you find that you have multiple *one things*, people think you’re crazy.
I used to be someone that took that societal stigma very much to heart. There are a LOT of things in the world that I’m very passionate about, and being told (in a roundabout way, of course) that I could only pick one thing was really hard.
I really love my business and my coaching and, yes, that does take up most of my time. But I also really love a bunch of nerdy things. Music is something that I adore and have a huge passion for. I love animals, and I want to do more in life to help them. Stationary and organizational things are some of my top favorite.
I can love all of those things AND love what I do each day because being multi-passionate is totally fine!
If you are multi-passionate, I encourage you to do as many things as you want and are able to because doing just one thing when you love many things is simply boring as heck!
#10: You will probably lose friends as you go along with life
I’ve gone through this hardship two major times in my life.
As a freshman in high school, I lost my entire circle of friends when I found out that they were all talking about me behind my back. At the time, I thought they would be “my people” my whole life.
I lost my best friend again around the end of high school and when I was transitioning into college. Nothing bad happened – we just drifted apart.
Here’s the reality: you and your life will change. Some friends are only meant to be in one phase of your life.
As you grow, there’s going to be some friends that aren’t able to grow along with you. And that’s okay!
#11: Failure doesn’t equate to failure
Here’s what I mean by this: you are going to fail at some point in your life. (If not multiple times!) But there is always something to learn when you fail!
It’s up to you to look at a failure as a lesson learned. No matter what it is that went wrong, there truly is always something you can take away from it – big or small.
Instead of wallowing in the concept of, “Oh I failed!” try reframing the situation to see what you can learn from it. Finding the lesson makes the failure feel much less like a failure and more like a process of growth!
#12: Perfection is fake and unnecessary
I’m a recovering perfectionist. In both grade school and college, perfectionism ate me alive. I wanted it so badly and it tore me apart when I couldn’t reach it.
And that was the point. I couldn’t ever reach it! So it gave me a lot of unnecessary anxiety and stress.
Perfection isn’t real. It doesn’t exist in the world. Trying to make everything in your life perfect and achieve perfection in everything you do is a waste of time.
Instead, try to just be the best you can be, strive to do the best you can in everything and find the best outcome of every situation.
#13: It’s okay to say, “I don’t know,” but don’t stop there
Saying, “I don’t know,” about something can easily make you feel dumb or useless. But it doesn’t.
Personally, I would much rather have someone say, “I’m not sure! But let me find out,” than for them to make up a BS answer that isn’t even close to being correct.
Not knowing something means that you’re human. It’s okay!
The key is to admit that you don’t know something, and then work to find out the answer after that. Whatever that means! That’s where your growth will truly shine.
#14: Never be afraid to live exactly the way you are
When I was in grade school, I tried SO hard to fit in. I wanted to be someone that everyone liked. And honestly…it was a miserable way to exist!
Over the past few years, I’ve learned to let go of the unrealistic expectations of myself and live true to who I am. Feeling that power of alignment in my truest self has been one of the most amazing things in my life!
No matter what, make sure that you are living your life in a way that feels the most in tune with who you truly are. Live it the YOU-est way possible!
#15: Listen to what your body is telling you because you know it better than anyone
Have you ever gone to the doctor’s office for something and they say to you, “You’re fine.” But you leave with a lingering feeling of…no? I’m not fine?
Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about here. If you’ve ever had a feeling like that, trust it.
This might be an unpopular opinion, but doctors do NOT know everything. Yes, they went to school for how many years. But they are not inside of your body. You know what feels right in there more than anyone else.
For example, I’ve had a bad shoulder since I was 14. To make it a long story short, I had to go through 5 different doctors over 5 years to finally get the correct diagnosis.
The first doctor told me nothing was wrong with me. Turns out – my shoulder is all kinds of messed up now. How crazy is that?!
So trust me when I say that you need to listen to what your body is telling you. You know your body better than anyone. Trust those feelings – even if a doctor contradicts you.
#16: Grief is a very complex emotion
At the age of 10, I lost two very important people in my life in the span of 4 months. Needless to say, it was a hard period for me to go through.
Going through the grief of those two losses was a very intense and complicated process. It was one that also lasted years more than I ever expected it to.
Since then, I’ve realized that no one processes grief in the same way as another person. I think grief is an emotion that encompasses so many other emotions, and that makes it harder to work through!
Getting through a period of grief can be super hard, but you can get through it. It just might not be a process that makes sense. It’s so complex.
#17: Laughter is one of the most important things in life
This might seem pretty self-explanatory, but it’s still worth including.
I love to laugh. Honestly I laugh at everything so it would kinda suck if I hated laughing, haha!
But over the years (especially now as an adult), I’ve seen just how much of a difference there is in a day when I laugh and in a day when I don’t. Laughter has magic powers!
Every single day, I hope that you find something to laugh about. Laughter will help you get through the craziness of life and it’s always worth the effort. Always.
#18: Empathy is a very powerful tool, but it needs balance
Like I mentioned earlier in this post, I’m a very empathetic person. I grew up without any real idea on how to use and manage that skill.
It was hard to deal with! Empathy gave me even more anxiety than what I already had on my own. I was always trying to take on the weight of everyone else’s emotions and it was very overpowering.
Empathy needs a lot of balance. You need to be able to differentiate other people’s emotions from your own and do it in a way that doesn’t add extra weight on your shoulders.
Do you struggle with being empathetic? Check out this post to learn how to deal with the anxiety that empathy can cause.
#19: You decide what you believe in – no one else does
We all grow up taking in the beliefs that we’re taught by our parents, families and surroundings. That’s normal and to be expected.
At some point, though, you might find that your beliefs start to differ. That’s okay!
For example, I was raised Christian, but I am now Agnostic. I was taught Christianity growing up and I wouldn’t change that experience at all! I had a lot of great things come out of that.
But as I got older, I realized that I was viewing the world very differently. It was time that I stepped away from the beliefs I was taught and make my own choices.
At the end of the day, other people don’t decide what your beliefs are. You do!
#20: Your childhood and the environment you grew up in doesn’t have to define you
Half of my childhood was in Ohio, while the other half was in Pennsylvania. Truthfully, the town I lived in in Pennsylvania pretty much sucked.
Don’t get me wrong – a lot of great things came out of living there. Like my boyfriend and my best friends. (Hi Alex! Hey Forrest! Hiya Sam!) I wouldn’t change living there because of the goodness I DID get out of it.
But I went through some hard times living there (and in Ohio, too!) and it would have been really easy to let those hardships define me.
I didn’t, though. I grew out of the negativity and I’m now much better off. Your childhood experiences don’t have to define you. Seriously, you get to decide how those things affect you!
#21: Spread kindness as much as possible in as many ways as you can
If there is any ONE thing I’ve learned about life, it’s this.
Kindness has so much power, it’s hard for me to even wrap my head around it. I really try to live my life with the most kindness as possible. Kindness will make the world a better place more than any other grand idea ever will.
But the reason why kindness is a lesson to be learned is because kindness is much harder to give than it is to spread negative actions. Spreading negative energy is easy.
But spreading kindness is ALWAYS worth it, despite the work it takes to do it. The amount of positive change I’ve seen just from my own acts of kindness has been incredible.
I’m one person. There’s BILLIONS of humans on this earth. Imagine how amazing it would be if every person worked hard to spread kindness.
Experiencing the effects of your kindness is a gift like no other.
If there’s one thing you take from this whole post, it’s to be kind. It’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in 21 years here on this planet and it’s the one that has had the most impact.
Share kindness and positive energy as much as humanly possible.
I hope you loved these lessons that I’ve learned in 21 years!
And there you have it! 21 awesome lessons I’ve learned in 21 years. I hope you learned something from this post and got some good advice out of it!
What’s a life lesson YOU’VE learned? Share it with me below in the comments! I’d love to chat about it. 🙂