I turned 21 two weeks ago while I was in London, making it the third consecutive year I've celebrated my birthday overseas. It's only been 2 weeks since my birthday and I'm probably going to jinx it by saying this but I absolutely love being 21!
My 21st turned out very differently from how I imagined it to be simply because a week before my birthday, I genuinely thought I wouldn't be with any of my family members. But days before turning 21, cousin Jalil called to say he was going to be in London on the week of my birthday for work. Long story short: I had a very memorable 21st and I'll cherish every moment of it forever.
I don't want to go into detail with the day itself because that's honestly not as important as the personal reflections I've made months before turning 21. To my younger readers (or older), here are some very important life lessons I've learnt so far:
As a young adult having only recently left teenhood, I know the pressure of fitting in with the crowd. From experience — you can wear, eat, act and speak the same way the 'crowd' does but that's not going to help you sleep at night. If you're not at ease with a certain group of people; you're in the wrong one. It's not you: it's them.
Whenever you're about to do something and there's this icky feeling at the pit of your stomach telling you to think twice: listen to it. Don't doubt yourself so much. Sometimes, the fact that you've to think twice to do something is an indication that something's not quite right.
At least once in your life, someone will advise you to be yourself. But that's not always an easy task to do if you don't really know yourself. Sometimes with pressure from family/friends, we often forget what we want to be. Sometimes we're afraid to like certain things just because we feel that others may not find happiness from the things we do. I struggled with this for SO long. But at 21, I can proudly say nothing makes me happier than having a good laugh with my friends/family over ice-cream and spending the afternoon drawing cartoons.
It's OK if you're not top of the class. It's ok if you prefer encyclopaedias to Hello! magazine. It's OK if you're not as confident as some people. I used to think I had to fit into this mould I made for myself but no matter how hard I tried: I just wasn't smart, pretty, confident or good enough. It frustrated me but I've come to realise that no one was asking me to be all those things—I was stressing MYSELF out. Ha! Which brings me to the next point:
Life is a journey. With social media and what not, people's lives are so easily broadcasted to the world and when you see others possessing qualities or things that you don't have, our immediate response is to stress ourselves out until we have those things. And when we fail in the process, it frustrates us like no other. Envy and discontentment then emerges from this frustration.
If death was on your doorstep, you honestly wouldn't be wanting those things anymore. Live life slowly and surround yourself with people that'll keep pushing you to be a better you because honestly, everyone needs a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand to help them up when they stumble.
You're only 21 once so I'm going to make the most of the time I've between now and 22.
Watch out world.