Ten Things I Wish I Had Known at 21

1. Life is going to be great. Not every minute of every day, but as a whole. Remember when things are not going exactly as planned to step back and look at the big picture.

2. Laugh about as many things as you can. When something goes wrong, unless it is a tragedy, laugh about it. Chances are that it won’t seem nearly as bad after a laugh. Car breaks down while you’re on vacation? Air conditioner quits in the middle of summer? The first thing I do is have a good laugh and chalk it up to more memories because when we are reminiscing, many of the things we laugh the hardest about are the things that went wrong.

3. Marriage will not always be a fairy tale, but it will certainly be worth the work. Make sure you choose the right person, and once you’ve made that decision and commitment, stick it out. The grass may appear greener in another field, but there’s still dirt under that grass, too. Fertilize your own yard, and you will reap the rewards.

4. Children will be more work than you think, but they will bring you more joy than you could ever imagine. When you hear someone say that you don’t realize how much you are capable of loving another human until you’ve held your first child, believe them.

5. You will miss your parents when they are gone, no matter what kind of relationship you have now. You might not have a perfect relationship, and there may be many things that you will not miss, but knowing that a person who tucked you in at night or held your hand while crossing the road, or answered the phone when you called for help is gone from this earth will tug at your heartstrings.

6. You don’t need a job that pays six figures to be happy. If you spend most of your hours working to earn the money, you won’t leave enough hours to enjoy it. Money is nice to have, but it isn’t everything, and you usually adjust your spending levels to match your earnings. It took me a while to learn this one, but I would rather earn a teacher’s salary and have the summers off to be with my children than earn an attorney’s salary and rarely see them.

6. Getting up early takes some getting used to but really is worth it. It’s actually peaceful to be the only one up. You can get a lot done and really feel good about yourself if you just go ahead and get the day started.

7. Running is awesome. I always enjoyed running but never did it consistently for long enough to realize how much I love it. It doesn’t take nearly as long to see progress as you’d think, and it is so great for your health. If you ever wanted to “be a runner” give it a try…but realize that you won’t love it immediately. It takes a few weeks of running before it starts to get easier, but give it that long before you decide whether you love it or hate it.

8. A person really can not only survive but learn to enjoy drinking nothing but water and black coffee. I didn’t realize how much sugar I consumed just in beverages until I quit drinking sweet tea. I quit drinking sodas in high school but thought I’d be a sweet tea drinker forever. You simply have to make a commitment to yourself and stick to it to quit. You are strong enough to quit if you really want to. I promise.

9. Try to enjoy a sunrise or sunset as often as possible. When you don’t look at one for a while, it’s easy to start to think that they’re all the same…you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. This is so far from the truth. Each time I look at one, I am impressed by the beauty. There is so much to enjoy in everyday life. Too many people get caught up in looking for something amazing that they fail to realize the amazing creations that surround them every single day.

10. More is not necessarily better. Learning to let go of things that do not bring you happiness (things you surround yourself with at home, activities you participate in just because you think you should, the quest for the bigger home, the better car, the list goes on…) will bring you far more delight than you could ever imagine. I wish I hadn’t spent so many years buying *things* to put in my home only to one day realize that I had surrounded myself with so much stuff that I felt as if I was suffocating. Letting the excess go and making a commitment to live with LESS has brought me so much MORE. Be content.

2 thoughts on “Ten Things I Wish I Had Known at 21

  1. Love this list. It’s so true and while I would love for every 21 year old to read this, I’m grateful for the moments when I have to learn this myself. Many of them resonate as mantras we need to repeat throughout life! 😉 thanks for sharing this!!!!


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