Mar 30, 2015

12 Lessons I Learned While I Was 21

I turn 22 today (HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!) so it's time to reflect of life lessons and experiences from my twenty-first year of life. It's been a very full year of crazy highs and painful lows.

I graduated from Harvard, I discovered the addictive (but sometimes helpful!) social media network that is Instagram (follow me @danaikadzere), I made new friends but fell out of touch with some old ones, I experienced my first real relationship and my first real heartbreak, and so much more.

Here are 12 lessons that I learned while I was 21!

1. Balance is important.

I've been learning this over the years, but last year I finally really accepted that I do need the social aspect of life and the balance that provides rather than just working all the time.

2. What works for someone else isn't necessarily going to work for you.

As girls, we're always comparing ourselves against our peers, whether we come out well in the comparison or not. But these comparisons are so pointless, because everyone is different and everyone's goals, health, and happiness are achieved differently!

3. If you're lactose intolerant (cough, cough - me) you should really try not to eat too much dairy.

Ever since I started mainly eating coconut, soy, or almond based dairy substitutes, instead of tons of dairy yogurt and ice cream, my digestion (and thus I) have been much better off for it.

Be nice to your body!

4. You feel better when you look better.

Dressing in your ugliest, oldest, unfashionable clothing just doesn't make you feel good about yourself. Stop saving your cute clothes, because you deserve to feel good today - not just on special days!

Every day is a special day if you choose to make it so!

5. But sometimes a jammies day is just what the doctor ordered.

When you're sick, tired, or just feel like being a bum on a Saturday after a crazy busy week, staying in your comfy, cozy PJs all day can, paradoxically, make you feel better.

6. You can love someone who isn't your family.

I finally understand what people mean by 'choosing' a secondary family. When I was 21 (well, I still am 21) I l loved - really and truly loved - someone whom I wasn't related to. It was wonderful.

7. Love isn't always permanent.

Because I had only loved family members before, and family members are there for life, I didn't realize that love could be lost. I didn't realize that someone who loved you could unlove you and vice-versa. Unfortunately, that is the reality of non-familial love.

8. Losing love hurts. A lot. And for a long time.

This is part of why family is so important, because they are the ones who continue to love you.  They are the ones who stick by you. They are the ones whom you can call in tears at two AM and they'll talk to you until you feel better.


They're irreplaceable.

9. Friend love can be very beautiful and shouldn't be overlooked.

When you go through something difficult, it can bring you closer to your remaining friends.

And friend-love, while different and (for me, at least) on a much smaller scale, can be beautiful in its own right!

10. Always have a plan B.

Whether it's professionally or even just for something fun, it's great to work for plan A and to hope for plan A, but make sure that you have a plan B in case plan A doesn't work. Life rarely goes as expected!

11. You choose your happiness.

Yes, outside circumstances can make it easier or more difficult to be happy, but ultimately you decide whether you'll be happy or not.

In this year, I've met people whom you think would have every reason in the world to be as jolly as St. Nick, but they were flat-out depressed. And I've met people who had really little, but still always wore a smile that you could tell came from the heart!

12. Routine can be your worst enemy.

No matter what you're doing, resist the natural tendency to settle into a regular schedule and become content. At least for those of us who are in our twenties and still defining our life paths, the biggest, best things happen when you're actively not settling and, instead, thinking outside of the box all the time!

wake up and be awesome

Opportunities don't generally land in your lap by chance. You have to make them and take them!

What are some highlights of your 21st year?

What's something you learned this past year?

How old are you and when is your birthday? 
Happy birthday to all the other March babies!


  1. Happy Birthday! This post is wonderful :) I love every numbre of it!
    I am not a March girl but a June girl and I am still 21 but I love to pretend that I am just 19.
    What I learned the past year? A lot. And I am still learning. About myself, about the world, about life.
    I realized that life is short and beautiful but it can also be cruel and sad. And I want to enjoy the good but also the bad because it makes me how I am.
    Lots of love <3

  2. Thank you Karina - your birthday is coming up soonish, too! Just two more months :) I definitely know what you mean. And that's such a positive, well-needed reminder: experiencing the bad is important, too, because it's part of what forms you! XO


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