From The Archives: 21 Lessons I’ve Learned by 21
They say your twenties are when you find yourself. As a young woman with a strong personality I figured out a lot of things about myself well before I even took my first legal drink. My birthday is quickly approaching so I thought I would share this gem from my blogger vault – enjoy!
I’m 21, baby! I wrote this list shortly after my 21st birthday. I hope you enjoy it.
1. Ask. Believe. Receive. This philosophy has ruled my life since I was about 14 years old. This simple mantra is the preface to “Thoughts Become Things.” What you channel your energy and thoughts into is what you attract into your life. You may think “some people are just lucky, I’m not that way,” but if that’s what you believe, it will always be true. Ask for something you really what, believe that you can have it, that you are worthy, and be thankful for it, you will receive it.
2. Failure is fabulous. Some of you won’t understand this right away but allow me to explain: Remember when you were a kid and you played on the playground? Some kids zoom down “the big slide” and swing from the highest monkey bars while others sat on the seesaw or jumped rope. I guarantee that no matter which kid you were, you’ve fallen down and scraped your knee. Did you stop playing? Yeah, maybe for the day but it’s not like you never returned to the playground. That’s life. I have tried things that even I didn’t think were possible, some ventures have failed and other have flourished to this day. The point is now I know that I would rather fall from the highest monkey bar than never have felt the sensation of dangling that high in the air. Failure means you’re trying something outside of your comfort zone and growing!
3. It’s okay to cry. This has been a tough lesson for me. I’m not sure at what point in life, especially in a woman’s life, when we’re told “emotions = weakness.” For me, I’ve always felt it was better to err on the side of caution and mask my reaction to things. ”If someone hurts your feelings, pretend that they didn’t” was my general defense. As I’ve gotten older, had a few more experiences, and really been hurt, I’ve realized that it’s okay to cry. Whether you have to step out of the room or bawl in front of your bestie, developing emotional intelligence and fully living out your emotions is a part of being human. It doesn’t make you more of a woman or less of a man, it just makes you real.
4. Alone does not mean lonely. It’s actually kind of funny how many people think I am an only child. With a bit of self-reflection I do have qualities that lend themselves to that assumption: I love to read, I hold a lot of leadership positions, and have a lot of friends but love my solitude. There are few things I enjoy more than coming home from work or class, sitting down and being quiet. I’m that girl that has the most fun in the house when everyone is gone. Being alone and spending time with your thoughts doesn’t mean that you are lonely. For those ladies, and gents too, who are single, please embrace this time to figure out what activities you truly enjoy. The only person you’ll have forever is you.
5. Squats really work! I have always been interested in fitness and keeping my body working well and looking right. Recently, I found a squat challenge on Instagram and let me tell you, it has made a world of difference. I can’t think of a practical need for my booty to be stronger but this thing is sitting high and tight… and I’m not complaining (neither is anyone behind me, haha.)
6. When to “YOLO” [and when not to!] You. Only. Live. Once. #Facts. But, leave it to my long-time lover Drake to take this common phrase and ignite youth culture’s awareness of our inevitable mortality. Absolutely live life to the fullest: take that trip you’ve been dreaming up, wink at the cute guy at the bar, jump out of a moving car… Wait, what? Exactly. By all means experience as much as you can because tomorrow is not promised but don’t be stupid. Yes, I am young now but I want to live past my 20s and I want you to, as well! Be smart, have as much fun as possible, just don’t be an idiot.
7. Invest in yourself. I love to travel, read, and create. These things are what I pour my resources into. I would rather buy a plane ticket than go to a concert because the smell of authentic Italian leather and good pasta is enough to make me grin. What you spend your time and money on should be what add value to your life. Your life. YOUR LIFE. Do what makes you happy, prioritize, and know that when you get old you will want memories not just “things.” Experiences are what matter most; never stop learning and growing.
8. I love the number 8, haa.
9. Don’t force it. Life is not meant to be easy but if the universe is pushing against you at every turn in your pursuit for something, chances are, it’s not for you. That’s not to say if you don’t have glowy success at something that you shouldn’t pursue it, just use your intuition and seek out your own destiny rather than someone else’s. Beyonce would not be Beyonce if she tried to be raunchy and overtly sexual like other artists.
10. There is no such thing as a coincidence. Pretty self-explanatory, it’s just what I believe. If you open your third eye you will see it, too.
11. Befriend before ‘boyfriend’ [I love alliteration, can you tell?] Uh oh, boy talk! Hehe. As I reflect on my young life I can’t help but chuckle a bit at my “dating life.” I’ve been hurt, as many have, but I can honestly say there is no bad blood between any of my exes which I attribute to one thing: they are my friends. I may be giving away secrets here but my boyfriends have always been the guys I’ve overlooked at first and kept as friends. One day my eyes just opened and my relationships had already begun. Being friends with the opposite sex can be so fulfilling and is thee best foundation for a romantic relationship. [Hey mom & dad, if you’re reading this! You’ve been great role models for lovers & friends.]
12. Take risks. Imagine being a tall skinny 10th grader ready for summer but instead of packing for summer camp you were packing for Japan. That was my reality in 2007. Traveling abroad with a group of strangers may have been scary but it was so much fun and it changed my life. I would never have taken the chance if my parents didn’t drill into me that I could do anything I set my mind to. There is nothing to be gained by being afraid. When I want something I pursue it unabashed, I encourage you to do the same. I have had disappointment in life but it was always worth it. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
13. ABC – Always be cute. My mommy told me that and mama knows best. You really never know who you’re going to meet and you don’t want to make a bad first impression. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought “Oh, I’m just running to the store..” and then I see a super cute guy or someone really important. Shiza! You don’t want to be caught in that situation hence make it a point to look appropriate and crisp at all times.
14. ALWAYS be nice, it makes you feel good and it takes you far. I cannot stress this enough! To me, being nice is like doing the right thing. I always hold the door for people and offer my seat to the elderly, that’s proper. You don’t have to be cheesy and sacrifice everything you have for a stranger but being kind keeps you in touch with humanity. The bonus to being sweet is people will love being around you; jobs will come your way, nice men or women will want to date you, you get things for free… Haha, no joke. Don’t be nice for the perks but do know that the universe sees you and will give back in the best ways.
15. Breathe, it gets better. Think back to a time when you thought you would never make it through the day, now think about where you are right now. You’re okay, right? Even if you had a terrible day today: Take a deep breath, be thankful for life, and realize that you may not be able to change your circumstances but you can always change your thinking. Things WILL get better.
16. Sometimes your path chooses you. Fashion has always been a part of my life but one day public relations just consumed my interest. I saw a clothing line I liked and decided to contact the owner and tell him a few of my ideas for how to reach more kids my age. From there I started helping the brand get exposure and bam! I realized what I was doing was public relations.. To this day I’ve never looked back.
17. Tequila = Tekillya. But only if you take 12 shots. Never, ever, do that. Be strong my quivering liver! Libations can make for a fantastic evening but we all know too much of a good thing can be very very bad. Save yourself and your skin (alcohol ages you like crazy), simply sip in moderation. And always drink responsibly.
18. Life is so beautiful. Take walks, feel the rain on your skin, tell the truth. I remember watching this show once and the girl had a terrible day, all her friend said to her was ‘Right now is the best moment of your life.’ As simple as that is, it really struck me. Right now, this moment, the very instance that you are reading these words is the best moment of your life because it is the only moment you truly have. Do something meaningful with it! One of my favorite questions to ask people is ‘If all you had was ‘now,’ what would you do?’ If that doesn’t put your life into perspective, at the very least, it makes for one hell of a question in “21 Questions”
19. I never want to “grow up.” When I was a kid I remember thinking that I would never lie and speak harshly to people the way adults do. Well, you get older, add some not-so-nice four letter words to your vocabulary and suddenly you think all bets are off. No. I don’t want to live that way. Call it naiveté but being kind, honest, and polite still top my list of priorities in life. And no matter how many titles I have before or after my name or how sophisticated my vocabulary becomes, I will still value good old-fashioned F-U-N. To this day I love blowing bubbles, painting, and building things from my imagination. Childhood is a wondrous time in each of our lives that I plan to continue with more resources and better shoes.
20. I LOVE MY PARENTS! So I’ve always grown up loving Mommy and Daddy but it’s different when you’re older. One minute they’re telling you it’s bedtime the next minute they’re saying ‘I trust you, just be home at a decent hour.’ It’s as if in an instant my parents stopped talking at me and started talking to me. When you start to mature and experience life for yourself you realize that your parents are people too and no matter how many times you have heard it before, it resonates with you that they were your age once. I cannot tell you how much I am enjoying getting to know my parents as people. Even more than recognizing them as human beings, I now see them as these magnificent individuals who had a whole life before I existed. I must say, it’s pretty cool.
21. Love. Do it, be it, sip it, eat it. Want it, work it, fight it, feel it. I don’t care if you smear it on your body or suck it through a straw, love is everything. Having that passion, fire, or zeal for something or someone is indescribable. In my 21 years of life I can attest that wherever I have found love, I have found happiness. My most cherished moments have been because of my love for the people I was with, the places I have seen, and the God that I serve.
What have you learned in your years?