21 Life Lessons You Learn by Age 21

21 Life Lessons You Learn By Age 21 | Only on Five Foot and Fabulous

Today is a big day for me, friends. Any guesses as to why? If you guessed that today was my 21st birthday, you would be right! That’s right, kids: I’m old. Okay, so I’m not old, but I do get tired walking up a couple flights of stairs, I’m obsessed with cats, and I love going to bed early. I’m basically a pre-mature grandma.

Can we just take a moment to talk about how glamorous we all thought we would be at age 21? Finally old enough to drink alcohol, gamble, rent a car – real adults. Now that I’m here, I’m wondering how I ever got this impression. The real world is a very scary place. To everyone younger than me: Go to Neverland now while you still can!

All jokes aside, I’m super excited for this birthday! And to honor it, I decided to look back on the past couple years and reflect on lessons I learned.

21 Life Lessons You Learn By Age 21 | Only on Five Foot and Fabulous

1. Networking is very important

Yes, your academic advisors preach this, and you’ve probably grown tired of hearing it. I bet you didn’t think you would run across it on this innocent blog, but you thought wrong! Gotcha! Growing your professional network is an important part of #Adulting since it can open up tons of new doors for you. Starting sooner rather than later is always a good idea.

2. Don’t be afraid to say yes to new experiences

New experiences are awesome experiences. If I hadn’t said “yes” to half the things I did during the summer, I wouldn’t have gotten the full study abroad experience. I was a bit wary about traveling to a non-native English speaking country for a weekend, but I ended up loving it! But don’t say yes to drugs. Drugs are bad.

3. But say no when you want to

In addition to drugs, there are certain things you should say no to. This can be anything from “Wow, I just want to stay home today,” to “Actually, no. I don’t feel comfortable doing this.” Your wellbeing should be your greatest concern. Period.

4. Quality over quantity

This goes for clothes, relationships, and probably other things that I can’t think of. I know we all love Forever 21, but the truth is that those fast fashion companies just aren’t sustainable. They wreak havoc on our environment, and they generally do not get produced in the best labor conditions. Regarding relationships: would you rather have one amazing best friend or 20 crap ones? The answer is pretty clear to me!

5. Make time to laugh every day

I cannot emphasize the importance of laughing! To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t take too much to make me laugh. A simple pun will do it for me, but I live for a funny listicle or video from Buzzfeed.

P.S. If anyone from Buzzfeed Motion Pictures is reading this, I am your biggest fan. #NoShame

6. Call your mom

Moms rock, you guys. If you have a good relationship with yours, you should make a habit of calling her more often than twice a month. If nothing else, moms are legally required to listen to all your problems.*

*I am not a mom so I don’t actually know, but I’m pretty sure this is a fact.

7. Write with your own voice

Bloggers, writers, general public-ers: Find your own voice and go with it! Even if you’re writing a bajillion page research paper, you should still be able to find a way to add your own style in there. I love coming across pieces of writing that have a personality!

8. Stand up for the issues you believe in

Now more than ever is the time to stand up for what you think is right. Make your stand by raising awareness, attending rallies, writing to your congressmen, volunteering, and more! Your voice does make a difference.

9. Metabolisms slow down the older you get

People told me this when I was younger, but I kind of brushed it off like “Nah, I can eat a burger and fries, and I’ll be fine.” I am saddened to say that’s no longer the case. Now I can literally *feel* the junk food when I eat it. I didn’t sign up for this!!

10. Groceries are cheaper than restaurants

Guys, the ingredients to make a meal with 4 servings costs about the same as going out to eat once. Meal planning is a great way to save money and be healthier. Obviously you can still go out to eat, but make it less frequent!

11. Take more photos

I’m really bad at remembering to take photos. Sure, I take a lot for my blog, but I have barely any from my social life. I want to be able to look back on this time 20 years from now and see what I was up to and how much fun I was having. Take photos any chance you can get.

21 Life Lessons You Learn By Age 21 | Only on Five Foot and Fabulous

12. Take the initiative when no one else does

We’re all going to end up in situations where we have to be the leader. If people aren’t playing their part, take the initiative and do what needs to be done. It’s easier to take on more responsibility than to let it go unnoticed and suffer the consequences.

13. You’re not going to like everyone you work with

Kind of going off #12, some people really suck. They’re unreliable, self-centered, or sometimes just downright rude. The good news is that you’re not going to have to work with them forever. People move on, and better people will take their place.

14. Establish a morning routine

I love routines, you guys. I wake up at the same time every single day and do everything in the same order. It helps me to wake up and prepare for the day ahead of me. If you have a work or school schedule that doesn’t very much from day to day, I highly recommend you establish a morning routine!

15. Constantly update your resume

Resumes are very important if you’re going into the traditional workforce, so you should always make sure to keep it updated. If you’re going into a creative field, you should also think about creating a media kit or portfolio to showcase your work.

16. There is such a thing as “too busy”

I learned this the hard way over the past couple semesters! I would be running around all the time for different classes and activities, and it just got to be too much. This semester I’ve lightened my course load and dropped a club that I wasn’t feeling anymore, and those were honestly amazing decisions. I now have a lot more free time, but not to the point where I’m sitting around doing nothing. A happy medium, if you will!

17. Dress for success…

High school was when I started to dress more fashionably every day. I would wear a skirt or dress any time I could and I absolutely hated wearing yoga pants. My style has gotten exponentially better and a touch edgier since then, but I still dress with the mindset of “you never know who you might run into.”

18. …But don’t sweat if you’re not feeling up to it

We all have those days, man. Sometimes we wake up and think, “Not today,” and that’s completely okay. It’s ridiculous to have the mindset that you’re always going to look 110%, so don’t sweat it if you feel like wearing yoga pants on a Monday.

19. Don’t charge anything you can’t afford to a credit card

Credit cards can get dangerous. Don’t go around swiping it left and right if you can’t actually afford what you’re buying. Get into the habit of paying your card off as soon as you put something on it. That way you won’t have to worry about building up interest and lowering your credit score.

20. Horoscopes are more accurate than you think

I know NASA says astrology isn’t actual science, there is some evidence behind it. So many people are actually a great model of their zodiac without even realizing it. I, for one, am a strong Aquarius, and my best friend is hella Capricorn. If you’re looking for a good place to start, Cosmopolitan and Refinery29 do fantastically accurate weekly readings!

21. Comparison is the thief of joy

Perhaps one of the most important lessons on this list is to not compare yourself to others. You are an amazing human being, and your life is going in the direction it’s meant to go. Everything you need will be coming to you. Trust me.

And that concludes my list of 21 life lessons! To read 20 more lessons I covered last year, clicky here!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’ll be back on Monday with a brand new post!

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25 Replies to “21 Life Lessons You Learn by Age 21”

  1. Fantastic list! It seems great minds think alike! 😘 Happy Birthday, Baby!!!! 💗🎂💗

  2. Happy birthday! I’ve learned really similar lessons!

  3. Happy birthday girl! 21 was such a great year for me. And if you feel old, just wait until you’re 27!

    Greta | http://www.gretahollar.com

    1. Thank you Greta! I can’t really imagine 27, haha!

  4. Happy birthday! I loved the lesson of making sure to laugh everyday, so important and something I tend to forget.


  5. I love being able tot take photos to have memories. I am 19 and that is legal age here in Canada. I also love calling my mom we FaceTime at least once a week and we are so close and she really is my best friend

    1. My mom and I are best friends too!

  6. Happy belated birthday!! Cheers to 21 years! Also yes to networking! I’m trying to get better at it but it’s such a struggle when you’re an introvert..
    Amy | Pastel N Pink

  7. 21 is such a blast – enjoy gf! you’ve learned a lot throughout the years and far more insightful than I ever was at 21. x, nicole // http://www.nicoleeigh.com

  8. Don’t charge anything you can’t afford-I wish I had been better about that when I was 19/20 because now I’m paying for it at 25. Happy 21st birthday lovely, you are so sweet and kind, you have your whole life ahead of you!

  9. All these are so true!! Happy belated birthday! 21 is a great year. Enjoy it 🙂 (P.s- it’s so adorable that your mom commented!! Love it.)
    xx Carly | http://www.thecarlycollective.com

    1. Thank you Carly!

  10. Such a great list of tips and learning experiences! I am still learning the “groceries are cheaper than restaurants” tip! lol

    xoxo, Candice

  11. Rarely to I agree to everything on a list, but man I agree with everything on this list! Happy belated birthday, it’s a really fun year!

    1. Haha thank you Ashley!

  12. I wrote a similar post back when I turned 25 (wow, that makes me feel old). You should consider yourself very lucky if you learn and truly implement some of these life lessons by 21. But I’d have to disagree with 16 – I think busyness is a completely made up societal standard that is totally overrated.

    1. Lol I do not mean to make you feel old!

  13. I love posts like these! I used to do this and wish I kept it up because they are always so great to read.

    1. Thanks Kirsten! You should do one again!

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