Skip to content ↓

21 by Alexa J. '20

i don't know about you but i'm feeling 21...

A 21st birthday has significant significance in the U.S. because you can now drink that special fermented beverage that has basically been available to everyone in most other countries since they were a preteen. I’ve hit that milestone this semester and would like to share 21 thoughts I’ve acquired on the way to becoming a full-fledged adult (in no particular order).

  1. Pick my battles. I was incredibly argumentative as a child, and I learned the hard way that proving you’re right rarely ever proves anything to the other person. If you must, only argue on matters that go against your core values. For example, picking a restaurant is probably not the hill you want to die on.
  2. On a similar note, every word out of my mouth has the power to bring people up or tear them down. Make them count or don’t say them at all.
  3. Impulse purchases = a bulging closet but no added happiness. Neither does scrolling on social media.
  4. Keep the people that make me happy close. It’s also alright if they drift apart and the friendship lives on in your memories.
  5. Walk around with a smile, and the world will smile back. And science says you’ll be happier too!
  6. Not everything has to be profound or over-analyzed. Some things can just exist. Some choices can just happen. This includes blog posts, conversations, and whether or not to wash my hair at night (believe it or not, I’ve once thought through a pro/con list about this).
  7. External validation does not and should not define my self worth. And yet, it still does. I’m working on this one.
  8. I have really bad travel luck, and I need to plan for mishaps. In my time here, I’ve missed flights or had them cancelled, been ticketed by police on the metro in two foreign countries, had cash stolen from a tour bus, locked myself in a bus bathroom for 10 minutes…The list goes on. Solution: Arrive at least 30 extra minutes before you think you should, carry your valuables with you, and bring a phone to bathrooms for emergencies and flashlight needs.
  9. Don’t wait for things to be taken away to be grateful for them.
  10. Look up word pronunciations before I try to use them. @ you, macabre. (məˈkäb)
  11. Reducing mental and physical clutter ensures I use my mental spoons for useful things.
  12. Sometimes, I’m just not good at stuff and that’s alright. My inability to draw or do a pset doesn’t mean I suck at life. Rather, I have room to grow, and/or I bring something else to the table.
  13. Listen first, talk second. With full attention and empathy.
  14. When my mind is foggy, workout, write, or go to sleep. I wouldn’t drive with a fogged windshield, and by the same logic, I shouldn’t try to work in a fog.
  15. I know how to say “May I pet your dog?” in 5 languages. There’s a joy in learning for the sake of learning. Or petting dogs.
  16. Doing challenging things outside my comfort zone is the only way to grow. It’s also important to listen to that voice that says I need a break. Life is all about walking that balance beam.
  17. Say yes because spontaneity breeds creativity and opportunities. The planner in me finds this one very hard. Once upon a time, I went to a hackathon in Russia and met one of my closest friends at MIT. She introduced me to her UROP, and the rest is history. Well hopefully, if we manage to get published.
  18. Figuring out what makes me happy is a lifelong journey, and it might change. There’s a reason there are so many self-help books on it.
  19. I’m definitely lactose-intolerant. Although not so much so that I can’t indulge in ice cream and cheese every once in awhile.
  20. Anxiety and stress are different than motivation and drive. One incentivizes action to relieve the mind, the other inspires purposeful follow-through to nurture the mind.
  21. Laugh hard and laugh often.

And there you have it. I don’t think I’ve necessarily mastered all of these things, but at the very least, they’re on my radar, and I’m making strides.