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Hold on…you’re telling me that I have been alive for 21 years?! Quite frankly, this fact baffles me. When certain friends tell me that I’m getting old, I find myself struggling not to agree. I know it’s a bit of light banter on their part but the truth is, I’m feeling pretty wistful about the fact that my childhood and teenage years have been and gone. Then again, 21 is a great age to be. It’s the prime of my life, surely? It’s funny how as kids we pine to be older and mature and ALLOWED to do things, whereas now I’m sitting here thinking, ‘crap…I need to adult. How does one adult? Please tell me how this adulting thing works!!!’ I always tell my younger cousin to slow down, to not attempt to grow up too quickly because although there are so many good things about being an adult, there are also lots of responsibilities. As well as things that you can do, there are also things that you no longer can do. I’m not going to dwell on this, however. I always try to see the positives in every situation and there are so many great things about being 21. At this stage in my life, I feel genuinely content and am happy with myself as a person; I have grown and developed so much in such a short space of time and now I am a lot more confident and have concrete views, beliefs and ideas – when I was a bit younger, you could say that I was a bit…wishy-washy. No more of THAT! So what have I learnt? One of the biggest things I have learnt is to let go of inhibitions and to just to be myself, to not care about what other people think. Self-love is SO important. There is a fine line between loving yourself and being completely arrogant but once you get the balance right, it’s amazing. Why should peoples’ opinions about you matter? They aren’t you. They are not living your life, YOU are. Of course, it is important to keep in mind what people have to say if they genuinely do care about you but at the end of the day, your life is based on your own decisions and everything that you feel starts with yourself. You can hold on to so many negative emotions but all that is going to do is eat away at YOU. If you learn to accept yourself the way you are, what other people say is brushed aside because they can’t affect your positive mindset, or they shouldn’t. Friends are important. It’s good to have a few that are true. ‘Your circle gets smaller as you get older’ – everyone says it. But it really is true. I can’t speak for my 30-year-old self but as of now I know that I have some really great friends that I would trust with my life and that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are a lot of them. In general, it’s great to have an array of different people coming in and out of your life because I believe that they all make some sort of contribution to you as a person. I find that I am influenced even the tiniest bit by someone that may just be an acquaintance and that’s really cool. It’s so important to expose yourself to new ideas, new people, new cultures, to experience diversity. It really makes you a more open-minded and creative person, in a sense. Getting wound up about the little things isn’t worth it. There are much bigger issues that need our attention. I’m no snow queen but I will say that caring about things less makes life a lot easier! Sometimes I want to grab hold of peoples’ shoulders, give ‘em a good shake and tell them, ‘it’s not that deep, man!!’ You don’t need to get upset and angry over every little thing. We don’t exactly have a long list of things to complain about. People across the globe are living in extreme poverty and facing war – there’s no need to think that your life is over simply because things haven’t gone exactly according to plan. There are times when we need to let out emotions and that’s ok, everyone’s going through their own sh*t and that’s also a reason for people not to judge. Being kind doesn’t cost a penny. There’s a really deep quote I came across recently that goes like this: ‘Hurting someone can be as easy as throwing a stone in the sea. But, do you have any idea how deep that stone can go?’ The imagery in this quote is super powerful and I really think it’s important. Everyone goes through stuff. The best thing we can do is not to criticise people but to show kindness. If you’re going through stuff, keep your chin held high because good things are yet to come. As I said before, harbouring negative feelings is affecting no-one other than yourself. It may take time, but I promise things do get better. Whatever you are passionate about, embrace that. I’m passionate about a lot of things and the truth is, we can’t actually do everything that we really want to do. There are some limitations. At 21, some people are certain of how they want to live out their life and some people have absolutely no clue. While I am not 100% sure of what I want yet, I know what is important to myself and there are goals that I have set and things I know I want to accomplish. I used to get quite annoyed that I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do, but now I know that life isn’t necessarily about achieving huge things – if you make lots of little achievements and changes to the lives of those around you, you can be equally as happy and reap just as many rewards. Stay true to what you hold dear. Grab opportunities with both hands. Above all, step out of your comfort zone! Holding back and simply being comfortable will mean that you are safe but you are restricting yourself from experiencing lots of other amazing things. It can be scary and overwhelming to step outside of your comfort zone but in the end you will look back and be so thankful that you did. Certain things require some work but they can turn out amazingly in the long run. I really can’t say that I am someone filled to the brim with wisdom because I still have lots to learn! However, since I feel I have come out of my shell over the past couple of years – and now that I am 21 – I do feel like I have a keener awareness of many things. Perhaps I have gained some wisdom, even if it’s just a little. The future is bright…

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