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21 Things I Learned About Being 21

Updated on March 19, 2017
Dominique Smith profile image

D. A. Smith enjoys crafting fiction that involves curvaceous characters with romantic entanglements, a diverse menagerie of aliens, and more

Young and Free... Until Monday.
Young and Free... Until Monday. | Source

21: Your Friends Life will Seem Better than Yours


Back in high school (oh man, I'm old enough to say that now, yikes!), there was always something to do whether it was hang out at the mall to buy stuff we didn't need from Hot Topic, or chill after school at the library giggling at all the "old people" who were trying to ask the librarian where the fax machine is (we still have those???).

We didn't care about statuses, rich kids were rich, broke kids were broke. No one bullied each other about anything other than grades and who got their licenses first. And, anyone with a brain broke or rich could get good grades.


Facebook is the devil. Going on any social media website instantly makes you feel inferior to someone you probably haven't talked to since graduation day. One kid's going to London for Lit studies, another seems to be traveling the world on nothing, but air. Another kid started a business and now he's making four times you make a year. And, then you wonder, what have I done? I colored inside the lines. I have mediocre trips outside of the city. Why does my life suck? And, then reality hits: No one puts their bad news on sane puts bad stuff on social media.

So, I learned that my friends' lives does seem better than yours. But, to every coin there's another side to the "better than yours" life.

20: Everyone's Making Babies

I never wanted kids. I knew how much they cost. I've baby sat and didn't enjoy the feeling of having projectile vomit spewed on my chest, and I watched enough TLC and (INSERT NUMBER HERE) Kids and Counting to realize I probably won't be a parent anytime soon.

Well, I have classmates who have young toddlers. I get it. Life happens. People slip up. But, there's a fine line between posting a picture of yourself in a bikini in Cancun one week and then slapping a picture of uterus on my status feed the next. Just stop it. I don't want to know what's in there.

It's hilarious sometimes to see that the person who didn't return their textbook to the guidance counselor at the end of the school year is now going to be responsible for a human life.

As they say in the Green Mile before an Electrocution: May God have Mercy on You.

19: Everyone's Dating but You

This goes along with the baby comment above. Everyone's in a relationship. The status' on a Facebook feed changes faster than the numbers of the Florida Powerball during the 1.6 Billion Dollar frenzy. I've been invited to a lot of weddings. I choose not to go. I don't need to be reminded of my single status thank you.

Also, apparently, the human brain isn't fully developed until twenty-five. What if the person you liked at twenty-four becomes a spawn of Satan by the time you reach twenty-five? I can't have that kind of stress in my life. I'm glad you're in a relationship with Bae Numero 3, but keep it private, or I'll hide your feed.

18: Taste In Music Will Change

In middle school, I was into Lil Wayne, Usher, and Fall Out Boy (don't judge me). By high school, I was knee deep in screamo, grundge bands, emo bands (are we allowed to say emo anymore?) and anything that resembles a squealing piglet heading to slaughter.

Now, I love eighties music, Broadway showtunes music, and the occasional mainstream rock song. I still have a big heart for Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, and Attack! Attack!. But, music changes like the flavor of the day.

I've been twenty-one for four months. I swear all those corks isn't mine.
I've been twenty-one for four months. I swear all those corks isn't mine. | Source

17: Drinking's Okay, I Guess

At twenty, my company had an office party and I couldn't wait to be old enough to grab a beer or a glass of wine (like a lady), and stumble off into the sunrise with my co-workers. Now, it behooves me to leave the comfort of a very comfy bed, drive to the Publix across the street from my house, and pick up a bottle of fruity flavored wine.

I'm twenty-one, I should be hammered at least once. But, I drink in moderation. I don't know what a hangover feels like. Never experienced that loopy feeling that everyone is so excited to get. Maybe, I'm not human.

16: Buying a Car is Easy (when your mom's around)

Millennials get slack for being entitled dirt bags who's sucking up all the air with their nostrils and Beats headphones intact. Well, guess what, I bought a car, two months after turning twenty-one. And, what I learned is that buying my first car was the easiest thing in the world, because my mom was there.

I know a lot of people doesn't get that kind of help and maybe I seem childish, but I needed her during negotiations. The woman has a poker face that can make the price for an expensive vehicle drop six thousand G's and she's got the knack for crying on cue. I got a new car, my mom helped, and shall I say the payments are reasonable.

15: You'll Appreciate Your Parent(s) More

I started working at sixteen, with plans of moving out by eighteen. I'm twenty-one, taking care of more than half of the financials in my family's home. To this day, I can't figure out how my mother survived in this world. Have you seen the price for a gallon of milk? And, gas prices are sure to skyrocket by the time the 2016 elections are over.

My mother was a single parent, my father mentally disabled, and a bad father (not because of his disability but because of his lack of giving a sh*t about his kids), she worked at night shifts, took care of my aging grandmother, paid all the bills, bought all the food, made sure my brother and I went to school in clean and pressed clothes, and had enough time for us to travel the U.S. at least once a year.

I'm still trying to figure out this work-life balance thing that seems to escape me. She managed to make my childhood near perfect. I appreciate her so much!

14: There's a Crises During Every Stage of Life

I'm worried about turning twenty-five and experiencing my quarter-life crises. There's not enough Kleenex in the world for me when that day comes. I know it from the crises I'm experiencing now.

13: Cartoons Start Making Sense

I watched cartoons in the past to escape homework. Now, I'm looking for the deeper meaning of life through them. Do you know all this time, I was learning about physics just by watching a Coyote and Road Runner cartoon? And, did you realize all of the cartoons on TV is now sliding jokes that are hilarious, true, and speaking to the older generation?

12: You Still Can't Have It All

I wanted a car, house, cat and/or dog, a husband, a couple of kids, and a great paying job all before I turned twenty-one. That train sailed as soon as the stock market said to America, "NO MONEY FOR YOU!"

So, I'm grateful for my car, my apartment, my lack of pets, lack of husband, and a job that pay's enough for me to pay for everything I currently have, and a little left over for some movie tickets and a small popcorn hold the butter.

11: People Will Die

The only people that died when I was younger were the people I expected, old, sick, maybe died once before. But, now, there's people my age dying every day on TV. I've had friends whose parents died, before they even turned eighteen. And, I might've talked to someone one day just to learn the next week that they died in their sleep. It's so sad and makes me realize that I need to live life to the fullest.

I would walk 500 hundred miles for you!
I would walk 500 hundred miles for you! | Source

10: 99-Percent of Life is Waiting

The guy you just text, he hasn't texted back. Wait.

The car ahead of you is ordering for a family of thirty, at Burger King. Wait.

Your paycheck is bi-weekly. Wait.

You need to get a new job. Wait.

You want people to buy your book from Amazon and you haven't gotten one bite. Wait (Or move on to something else)

Life is about waiting. And, I can't stand waiting. I want stuff now!!1!!

9: Money is an Elusive Force in Our Universe

I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and when I got to the part about the green paper that people start wars over and kill for. I realized that money, like proving the existence of dark matter and dark energy is an elusive force in this universe. At least, it is in my wallet. One day, I'm rolling in dough, next thing I know bill collectors are sucking up said dough, and then by the end of the day, I say I'm going to save what I have left. When I wake up the next morning, I learn that my last twenty was used to wash clothes while my mother was in the mood to do laundry.

Ugh! At least my work shirts are clean now.

8: You're probably Not Going to be The Next Mark Z.

Okay, I've schemed, plotted, and thought about how I might become the next billionaire. I'm not good at software development, I'm an introvert that avoids other introverts, and I have yet to save up enough money to purchase a website domain and blog hosting company.

I'm going to be me and not the billionaire down the street for a long time. But, when you think about it, there's nothing wrong with being me. I'm sure the billionaires down the street wonder what they're doing with their life, they're just doing it on the privacy of their own island.

7: I Should've Gone Back to College, Maybe

I left college to start working full-time because my mother's disabled, my brother was a minor, and I was (and still is) the sole breadwinner of my family. I tried balancing work-school-and-a-social-life, but failed miserably back in high school.

Now, I contemplate going back to school. But, if I went back, my major would be something everyone I know hates, English. And, then I'll be throwing thousands of dollars at a degree that may or may not help me succeed in life. And, then, I'll probably either regret going back to school or people will make sure I remember to regret that decision.

I might just stick to watching TED Talks and reading blogs.

6: Decisions, Decisions

I didn't like making decisions back in high school. I don't like making them now. The only difference, I didn't have to make decisions in high school. In the real world, everything I do has a consequence, even if I decide to do nothing, it's still a choice, and it will be the difference between me living life to the fullest or sitting in a corner, rocking myself to sleep.

5: It's Okay to Ask for Help

It felt like a sin to ask for help with a science project or math assignment. But, in the real world, post twenty-one, if I don't ask for help. I ain't gettin' none.

I've had horrible days, times when I imagined myself flying driving forever and never returning to my problems. I had a good friend who cared about me. Someone who listened to my sob story gave me advice. And, made me feel better. People care if you let them in.

And, even if you need help that comes from a professional, say mental health, or even medication, just go, do it. Keep yourself healthy and don't listen to anyone who isn't good for you.

4: Just One Good Friend is Okay

My hoard of friends I used to hang out with went from sixty-six to negative one. Sometimes, I'm alone even at parties. I'm an introvert, most of my friends whose company I do enjoy are introverts too. We might hang out once a year or once every couple of months. But, I know who's there for me. Besides, having one good friend means more than having a thousand FB followers.

3: There's Never Enough Time

I couldn't wait to turn eighteen. And, then I blinked, I'm twenty-one. I do not want to be that person at the age of thirty, smashing my head against a brick wall sobbing because I wasted my twenties on stupid stuff. Such as worrying about who's getting married, why am I still fat, will anyone love me, why am I broke after working eighty hours?

Life is a journey, a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy it because time sure goes fast.

2: Don't Listen to Haters

I listened to every hater that's ever crossed paths with me. The ones who teased me about my weight. The ones who hated my style. The ones who hated my taste in music. I listened to haters and tried to conform myself to what they wanted, and yet they still hated me.

Now, I don't care. I get over it. Let the words flow through one ear and out the other. Besides, everyone has something to hate. Just go to a Trump Rally.

1: You're Only Twenty-One Once

Make mistakes. But, not the giant life changing kind. Have a party. But, don't get the cops called on you. Be outgoing. But, don't jump off that bridge just because your friend said it'll be a good idea. Point is have fun. Just don't get hurt. And, if you do get hurt, get up, dust off your busted knee, and limp home and have a soda pop.

Bonus: Remember to Have Fun

Am I Missing Anything?

You're about to turn twenty-one or you've been twenty-one anything you would like to add to this list that wasn't already talked about or expounded on? Comments below, please!


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