Over spring break, I turned 21 years old. Because I feel insanely old, I also feel wise enough to finally give all the big sister advice my siblings never asked for. So, here is 21 things I have learned in 21 years, starting with things to keep in mind when it comes to yourself.

First up is to stand up for yourself. You are the only person that is going to have the opportunity to have your back every day for your entire life. Set boundaries and learn to advocate for yourself and your needs. 

Which leads us to the next point: learn how to say no. You do not have to be a people pleaser. You are allowed to say no for any reason, with or without an explanation.

That being said, learn to say yes to more things! Get out of your comfort zone and do things you never knew you would be able to do. You willl be pleasantly surprised, more often than not. 

Keeping these in mind, trust your guts. When you suddenly get a bad feeling, trust it. When you listen to your intuition (not to be confused with your anxiety), you can avoid so many bad experiences and stop many mistakes from happening. 

On top of that, stop caring what people think. When it comes to you, your happiness is the only one that matters. People are always going to hand out their opinion, but why does it matter when you don’t want them in your life anyway?

While we are on the topic of listening to your needs, remember it is okay to be selfish. Get the extra guac, buy that drink you have been waiting to try. Indulge in your guilty pleasures. Whatever self care looks like to you, do it! It is not selfish to take care of yourself. 

Now that we’ve covered you, let’s get into the lessons about the people around you. The most important thing I have learned is that the right people for you will find you. Whether it is romantic or platonic, the people who like you will let you know. People you have known for a few months can be better for you than people you have known for years.

Even when the wrong people find you, you have to still be able to trust people. You are going to get hurt, but that’s no reason to lose faith. You don’t have to trust blindly, but not everyone is out to get you, I promise.

Keep in mind that not everyone wants to be your friend, and that is okay. When it comes to people, everyone is going to have their own opinion of you. Often times, it is not even personal, it is just that you are not their cup of tea. And that is okay! Besides, you do not like everyone you meet either, right?

Still, people are mean. Some people are absolutely miserable in their own lives, and tend to take it out on others. It is not always personal, but it’s going to hurt regardless. On top of that, people who are mean to you consistently do not like you. They do not have your best interest at heart, and you should distance yourself from them. 

Honestly, though, you’re going to be mean sometimes too. It’s inevitable. So, maybe do not say everything in your head. Think before you speak.

It’s probably good that you, if you’re going to be around people, that you learn to deal with heartbreak. Relationships and friendships end, and it is okay if you need to have a good cry. 

Now with the real life stuff, but speedrun because you can definitely Google this! First: How to change a tire. 

Listen, if you really want a tutorial, you can YouTube it. But personally, this was a skill that I think is super useful to have. Will I ever change my own tire, probably not. But, hey! Useful to know. 

Break the rules. If we didn’t break the rules, nothing would ever change. That’s all I’m saying. Practice your hobbies. Cultivate a space for yourself where you can relax and unwind. Learn a new skill or just get to a new level of your current ones. Practice makes perfect!

If you need the bathroom, you should probably go. Obviously. If milk makes your stomach hurt, don’t drink it. Again, obvious.

Collect trinkets. What is life without a trinket or two? Boring and unexciting, that’s what. Write things down. Whether its making lists, planning your week, or just journaling, it’s beneficial to write things down. 

And last, but not least – making lists is hard. I hope that if you read all the way through this that you’ve found something to take with you. It only took me 21 years to do so.