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21 Things I Learned About Life By Age 21

I'm 21 years old, and I've seen a lot of life. I've got a lot left to see, but in my time, I have learned quite a few things about life in general, and I think it's important that everyone learn them, and sometimes, it's even more important to be reminded of them.

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1. Things rarely go according to plan.

And I've learned that that's okay. Sometimes, it's better that things didn't go your way. God's plan is greater than yours. So when something falls apart, I've learned that it isn't always in my best interest to try to fix it. Sometimes, you're better off to let it go and expect something better to fall together.

2. Everyone is going to let you down.

Everyone has shortcomings, and you will experience them. This is true even with the people you never expect to disappoint you. No one is perfect. The important thing is determining who makes up for their shortcomings, and being able to forgive the disappointments.

3. You will let the people you love down.

As I said, no one is perfect. You, too, have shortcomings. Inevitably, you will disappoint the people you care about, probably on more than one occasion. Accept this now, apologize for it, and learn to move past your mistakes. If you can admit when you're wrong, it's much easier for others to move forward.

4. It's okay to forgive, but not forget.

If we forgot everything bad that was ever done to us, how would we learn to avoid those things in the future? Sometimes, people will cut you too deep. Forgiveness isn't for them, it is for you. When you forgive someone else, you are free of them, but remembering how they hurt you will ensure that you won't let harmful people back into your life.

5. Your best friends in the world will be your family.

Your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins... They've known you the longest, they know you the best, and frankly, they're stuck with you. What else could you want in a best friend?

6. Some "friends" are family.

If you're lucky, and I have been, many times, you'll meet some people who should have been family. The ones who believe in you, support you, forgive you, and are always by your side may not be your blood, but they are family nonetheless.

7. Travel as much as you can, as far as you can.

The world is an amazing, beautiful, scary place. You can never see enough of it.

The different cultures, different people, different scenery- they will change you.

I have learned that the world is so much bigger than where I am. When I learned that, I realized that most of my problems are miniscule in the grand scheme of things.

I also decided that I would rather be a small part of a big world over a big part of a small one. I mean that I would rather make little differences and play a small role in this huge world than play it safe in my comfort zone.

I decided to be a citizen of the world.

8. Time is the most effective healer.

When you get a papercut in the crease of your finger, it's hard to get your mind off the pain. Two days go by, and it starts to heal. You still think of it if you, say, get lemon juice in it, but it isn't always on your mind.

It's very similar with your emotions. When something hurts emotionally, it is hard to even think of moving forward. But in time, it hurts less and less, and eventually it only stings a little when it is brought to your attention.

I've learned to give myself time to heal. It is so easy to fall back into bad habits and toxic relationships, but it is so much more rewarding to move on.

9. You can't hold someone's mistakes against someone new.

This is so important. Part of the healing process is moving forward. You can't move forward if your mind is still stuck in the past. Sometimes you should give second chances; always you should give first chances. You never know what you may miss out on.

10. Being independent is incredibly rewarding.

Having help is wonderful. Being able to help yourself is even better. Being self-sufficient has taught me to be more responsible, and I am so much more proud of everything I accomplish- because I did it myself.

11. Sometimes, it is just a bad day.

It might even be a horrible day. Those happen.

Accepting it for what it is makes it so much easier. I always tell myself, "It will only get better," and eventually, it does.

12. You can't say "I love you" too many times.

You just never know when will be the last chance you get to say it. And even if you had a million chances, it's just so good to hear.

13. Everything happens for a reason.

So find peace in that. You're going to get through it, whatever it is.

And once you get through it, you'll understand its purpose.

Some experiences are just that- they're meant for you to learn. Some experiences lead you into bigger and better things.

Accept life's curveballs, they are the best part of it.

14. You are stronger than you think.

One of my favorite quotes is, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you've got."

You may think you can't get through it, but if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

There is nothing you can't get through.

If you believe you're strong, you will be.

15. It's okay to cry.

This is especially useful to know on the bad days.

Nope, it doesn't fix anything, but it lets you blow off some steam.

The trick is, I've found, giving yourself a time limit. When I'm really upset about something, I'll give myself a day or two to be sad and mope around and sulk. But on Day 3, I put the smile back on, and I wear it until it's real.

16. Everyone needs an outlet.

Mine is music.

Some people turn to art, movies, sports, exercise, work, etc.

The key to this is finding a constructive outlet. Drugs and alcohol are outlets, too, but they are destructive to one's well being when they are used as coping mechanisms.

Know yourself and know your ways of coping.

17. Music will heal you.

In my mind, music is a sensory healer.

The music that heals me may not be the music that heals you, but knowing that somewhere, someone has gone through what you're going through, and on some level understands your situation can be so comforting.

If not the lyrics to a song, sometimes instrumentals can soothe you.

That relaxation will heal you in ways you didn't know were possible.

18. Your first love never leaves you.

This is something you eventually move on from, but it doesn't move on from you.

I've found that I learned way too much from my first real love to ever really let it go, and I have learned that it's normal.

It's not that you don't move on, it's that you carry all those lessons with you, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning from that person.

There is also nothing wrong with caring about that person. They may not be someone you speak to on a daily basis- most times you won't speak to them at all when it ends- but you'll always want good things for them, and that's a reflection on the very real feelings that did exist at one time.

19. "This too shall pass."

This quote has kept me sane on so many occasions.

Bad things happen. That's just part of life.

It will pass, life will go on, and you will be just fine.

20. Insecure people will tear you down to try to build themselves up.

If someone talks badly about you or down to you, that isn't a reflection on you. That is a reflection on them. Insecure people find peace in destroying other people.

I've learned to rise above it. I feel sorry for the people who have to knock down my accomplishments to make their own seem better.

Be who you are, proudly. No one can take that from you.

21. Nothing will ever be "perfect".

Have you ever met someone who said their life was perfect? They didn't want for anything? They didn't have any problems?


That's because that doesn't exist. You will never have everything you want, just the way you want it. There will always be something that isn't exactly ideal.

Life is a cycle like that. You're going to have times when everything is going smoothly, and then it might fall apart. Part of the beauty of life is how you pick the pieces back up.

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