21 by 21 – A List of Things I’ve Learned

I gave myself some time to think about this list, because I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t just writing to get it done. Suddenly, I’m 21. This may or may not mean anything. I can legally buy myself a drink. I guess that’s kind of cool. But I’m still a young adult, with a lot left to learn and sometimes the best way to move forward is to look back. It can be really helpful knowing how to avoid past mistakes and how to be kinder to yourself in the future. So this is my list of the 21 things I’ve learned in 21 years of life, reluctantly posted on a really rainy day to remind myself of what I wrote a few weeks ago.
1. Don’t worry, just prepare. Life will happen, and there’s no sense in being constantly worried about the future. I used to think planning was the one way to get things done, and if plans changed, then at least I had an idea of how to go on. One of my biggest faults might be over planning. I’m learning to take things a bit more slowly now.

2. Be ambitious. It’s okay to want to do it all. I have all the same passions I had in middle and high school and I’m learning how to turn those passions into talents, hobbies, and career plans. I don’t need to limit myself.
3. Invest in yourself. Give yourself time to take care of yourself in whatever way works for you. Eat well and have a healthy head space. You only get one body/mind to last you a lifetime. Take care of it. Skipping the party for a night in alone is not a crime.
4. Be grateful. For your loved ones, for your possessions, for your opportunities, for your future.

5. Nothing compares to travel. I’ve learned I don’t need the fanciest apartment or new clothes every month. I’m saving up for flights and gas money.

6. Learn how to communicate. One of my biggest frustrations is people who can’t communicate. Know how to tell someone you don’t agree with them. Know how to order your coffee just the way you like it. (A hot almond milk latte with an extra shot or an iced americano with 2 sugars, in case you were wondering). Know how to tell someone you love them. Or if you don’t. Know how to admit you were wrong. Know how to put your best foot forward and show off your accomplishments. Know when to not speak at all, and just listen. Know how to convey your emotions and thoughts verbally and with confidence and kindness. This is how you get what you want. This is how you get where you want to be.
7. Don’t skip the concert. You’ll figure it out. Just go.

8. Be receptive. Listen to opinions you don’t agree with and learn how to take constructive criticism. As an artist, this is how you improve and find your groove. As a person, this is how you develop your beliefs and learn how to stand by them. Really learn from your teachers, whoever they are. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great ones.
9. Resist pressure. If you heart isn’t completely committed to something (a major, a significant other, an event, etc.) don’t do it. Listen to your instincts.
10. Find your balance. There will always be a million things to handle at once. Finding your groove in all of it prevents unnecessary breakdowns.
11. Take notes! I’d forget to eat, what I learned at practice yesterday, and when my own shifts at work are if I didn’t leave myself reminders.
12. House plants can sometimes be your biggest motivators. Make the effort to take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

13. Cultivating healthy relationships with other people.
14. Embrace your culture.
15. Respect and appreciation is important. Respect your earth, your body, your family and friends. Respect the food you eat. Respect those above and below you. Everything has value, even on the days you don’t feel like caring or acknowledging that.
16. Stick to your word. If you value trustworthiness and expect it in others, you should possess it too.
17. Be on time. Be early as often as you can. And if your call time is 6p.m., being on time means you’re there by 5:30p.m. (Thank you, Ms. Peacock!)

18. Be observant. I know that if I’m uninformed I’m doing myself a disservice. I’m aware of how my actions impact the environment around me. That includes both the earth and my circle of friends and family.
19. Try new things. You never know what you might like, who you’ll meet, and where you’ll end up.
20. Dance unapologetically.

21. Reflect often. Reflect deeply. Reflect honestly.