21 before 21: a list

I'm sure we've all seen quotes floating around the Internet that say something along the lines of "your 20s are your selfish years." I believe in that statement, regarding the concept of selfishness, to a certain extent - your 20s are about figuring yourself out and doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. While you are focusing on yourself, and realizing what's most important to you, that selfishness should not dominate all areas of your life - obviously we shouldn't reserve all of our love and attention for ourselves.  There's always so much going on around us.


I can finally do all of you a kindness and shut up about being twenty years old, because now I'm another year older. There is such an odd culture that surrounds the age of twenty-one; it's widely considered another notch in your belt. While legally being granted the privilege of consuming and buying alcohol is a big deal, I have never considered it the defining moment of adulthood. Admittedly, though, in the weeks leading up to my twenty-first birthday, there was a little desperation, but I have never been known for cozying up to a bottle (I don't know if you could tell by the everything about me). As we get older, birthdays are less and less extravagant, but I suppose it depends on the person. I'm not one for huge celebrations or grand gestures, anyway. This year, my birthday was on a Thursday, so I just woke up, went to my classes, went to work, and afterwards I learned that tequila is my enemy, a lesson also witnessed by my roommate, my best friend, and my coworker. As far as my birthday goes, all that matters to me is that I'm surrounded by the people I care about, and I was lucky enough to have that this year.

Now that I'm one year older and (maybe) a little more wiser, I put together a list of 21 things I've learned before reaching this age. Some are things I've realized on my own, and some are quotes that others have said that resonate with me. Enjoy.

So here they are:



3. You don't need permission to feel beautiful. Ever. 

4. First impressions are important, but don't judge someone so harshly before giving them a chance to prove who they really are. 

5. Mental illness or trauma is not an excuse to treat someone poorly. 

6. Don't test your limits - don't spend more than what you have, drink more than what you can handle, or overwhelm yourself with too many responsibilities. 

7. If something is bothering you, don't bottle it up inside. Be honest. 

8. Never apologize for standing up for yourself. 




10. Always listen to what your body is telling you.

11. Make time for yourself, but make time for your family (and friends), too. Sometimes you need them more than you think. 

12. You are under no obligation to continue a relationship with someone who is not good for you or your health, whether it be a partner, friend, or relative. Do not feel guilty or let someone else make you feel guilty for cutting ties with someone who is toxic.

13. The wise words of former First Lady Michelle Obama: "There is no boy cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education."

14. The world will not end if you take a mental health day. 

15. Don't be an asshole, tip 20%, choose kindness because you never know what someone has to come home to. 




17. Be your own biggest fan. 

18. Even on the hard days, there are things to be thankful for. 

19. Take a moment to slow down and appreciate your surroundings. 

20. Be patient with your pain; it will pass. 

And 21, because I couldn't resist quoting her:



After all of the celebrating in the midst of work, essays, and emotions, I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have made it to a new year of my life, and how much love is present in it, even on days when I don't feel that way. There is still so much more to learn, and more memories to be made, and I'm ready.

reflectionsGrace Roberson