As 21 came and went, and I’m venturing into the golden age of 22, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the past and how it’s shaped me into who I am today. So in the spirit of my 22nd birthday, I decided to share the most important life lessons I’ve learned throughout the years.
1 – It’s okay to not have your life figured out yet
Your twenties are a time for learning new things and discovering who you are. You’re going to change your mind A LOT. You’re going to shift your focus as you’re growing into a confident adult. And, that’s okay! Don’t stress out if you don’t know what direction you’re going in this moment. You have the rest of your life to figure it out.
2 – Get out of your comfort zone and try new things
Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. You’ll grow so much as a person by trying new things that make you scared. Go skydiving, give that speech – push yourself to do the things that you’ve always wanted to try but were too afraid to. You only have one life to live, so you might as well live it to the fullest.
3 – Find the learning opportunity in every moment
So, you got dumped, you accidentally spilled coffee all over your favorite shirt, you just got a flat tire – stuff happens that’re out of your control. But, if you want to live a more meaningful life, you have to try and find the learning opportunity in every moment – whether good or bad.
4 – Always follow your gut
Listen to your intuition, especially if it’s telling you that a person or situation is bad. It’s always right.
5 – Mistakes are a good thing
Look at it this way – mistakes are stepping stones to success. You won’t get anywhere in life or grow as a person if you never made mistakes. So, don’t let fear of failure stop you from chasing after your goals. Turn your mistakes into fuel to go after what you want with fearlessness.
6 – Stop apologizing for everything
Don’t apologize for trivial things, like when someone bumps into you in the hall or when you give a delayed response to an email. It conveys a lack of confidence and trust within yourself to make the right decisions. There’s a significant power in being unapologetic about the choices you make. Own your decisions. But, do apologize if you truly mess up. It’s not a sign of weakness, but of maturity.
7 – You’re doing much better than you think
No, really. You are doing sooo much better than you think. The fact that you are where you’re at in life is a pretty amazing feat. You’ve already accomplished so much and you should be proud of that.
8 – Not everyone will like you and that’s okay
You won’t always be everyone’s cup of tea. But, that’s okay, because you don’t exist to please other people. You’re not here to be like everyone else and conform to other people’s standards. Embrace what makes you unique and don’t apologize if others can’t handle your shine.
9 – It’s okay to ask for help
Asking for help isn’t embarrassing or a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. We can all accomplish so much more together than we ever could alone. You don’t need to carry all of the burden on your shoulders. In fact, many people would be glad to lend a helping hand.
10 – Your body is a temple – treat it like one
Take great care of your body. Nourish it with healthy foods, exercise, get adequate sleep. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
11 – Don’t stress about things that’re out of your control
If you can’t change or control it, the best thing you can do is let it go. I know it can be hard, but you just have to accept it for what it is and move on. That way you can spend more time focusing on the things in life that you can control.
12 – Embrace change – it’s a good thing
Change is what molds and shapes you into a better you. You grow through it and thus, evolve into a higher version of yourself. So don’t be afraid of change. Accept that it happens and embrace the beauty of it.
13 – Be grateful for what you have
Practicing regular gratitude is a life changer. It keeps you grounded, brings you joy and puts things into perspective. If you’re feeling down about life, remind yourself of how lucky you are to be alive and have the life that you have. It’s not always easy, especially during bad times, but it has a huge impact on your life.
Related read: 50 journal prompts for self-discovery
14 – During your darkest days, remember that life gets better
To quote Victor Hugo: “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” I promise that whatever bad situation you’re in, it will pass and life will get better. The darkness will settle and the sun will peak through the clouds. Never forget that, especially during your worst moments.
15 – Let go of what no longer serves you
If something is no longer bringing you joy in your life – whether it’s relationships, toxic friendships, material items – let them go. I know it can be really hard, but think of how light and free you’ll feel afterwards. There’s no benefit from holding onto things that don’t add value or fulfillment to your life.
Related read: How to let go (leave the past behind and move forward)
16 – Never feel guilty for putting yourself first
If you’re a people pleaser (like me) than you know how hard it can be to do what’s right for you instead of what other people want for your life. Don’t worry about what other people think and don’t apologize for doing what’s best for you. You can’t always walk down someone else’s path. Sometimes you must create your own.
17 – Don’t rush through life
Give yourself a break once in a while. Take things slow. Don’t become so rushed and overworked that you miss out on the beauty of life. You only have one life to live so be present for it.
18 – Never give up on your dreams
Never let go of what sets your soul on fire. Do what makes you happy, unapologetically, and keep chasing after your dreams.
19 – One of the worst things you can do is compare yourself to others
Comparison is the thief of joy. It keeps you stuck, stressed out and feeling down about yourself. When you feel yourself venturing into the comparison trap, try to remind yourself of the things that make you unique. Everyone has their own gifts to share with the world, so don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard and to let yourself shine.
20 – Make time for self-care
Carve time out of each day to allow your body and mind to rejuvenate after a long day. Go on a walk, journal, take a bath – release all of the pent-up emotions and thoughts flowing through your mind. You’ll thank yourself later.
Related: 50 simple ways to practice self care
21 – Settle for more
Whether it’s with relationships, your career or education – don’t settle for less when you deserve so much more. As Dr.Phil once said: “The only difference between you and someone you envy is you settled for less.”
When you settle, you deny yourself the opportunity to experience life to the fullest. So, always settle for more.
22 – Take time to smell the roses
With our extremely rushed society, it’s easy to miss out on the beauty that’s all around us. Take time to slow down and be present in the moment. Release the heavy thoughts that are weighing you down, so you can be open to the wonderful things the world has to offer.
22 is going to be a great age, I can just feel it! It’ll be a time full of laughter, adventure and the occasional ugly cry. But, most importantly, it’ll be a time to learn even more life lessons that I can take with me for many years to come.
What are some of the greatest life lessons you’ve learned so far? Let me know in the comments below!