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21 Quotes I Wish I Knew When I Was 21

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Because growing up ain't easy.

Do you have advice you wish you could go back and tell your younger self? Because you definitely wouldn't be alone in that. I think back to all the things I was told when I was at school— that being cool didn't matter, that I would grow into myself, that the popular kids then wouldn't always be the popular kids— and, as much as I wouldn't believe any of it at the time, it was all true. Hindsight is 20/20. But when it comes to young adulthood, it's just as confusing and difficult and, at times, downright angsty and self-indulgent. There are so many things I wish I could explain to 21 year old me. Everything from not sweating the small stuff to definitely, definitely wearing sunscreen. Because really, that should have happened some time ago.

So think of all you've learned and what would be most useful to your younger self. Would you talk to them about love? Happiness? Not taking things for granted? There are so many different ways in which we learn and grow throughout our 20s and beyond. And it can be nice to take a trip down memory lane and think of just how clueless we were way back then.

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"What is every day is the perfect day to finally be exactly who you were always meant to be?"

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"Compete with yourself, not others."

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"You only fail when you stop trying."

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"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist."

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"The final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands."

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"We waste so many days waiting for the weekend. So many nights wanting morning. Our lust for future comfort is the biggest thief of life."

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"Do what you feeling in your heart to be right— for you'll be criticized anyway."

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"Don't waste your youth growing up."

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"Do not bring people into your life who weigh you down. And trust your instincts... good relationships feel good. They feel right. They don't hurt. They're not painful. That' not just with somebody you want to marry. But it's with the friends that you choose. It's the people you surround yourselves with."

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"No one looks stupid when they're having fun."

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"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are."

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"Not all wounds are visible. Walk gently in the lives of others."

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"Happiness and confidence are the prettiest things you can wear."

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"Nothing worth having comes easy."

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"Leap and the net will appear."

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"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire."

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"Education isn't something you can finish."

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"We rise by lifting others."

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"Take care of how you speak to yourself, because you are listening."

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"You don't luck into integrity, you work at it."

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"Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional."


At 21, so many people think that they have everything figured out. They know how they are going to take on the world and never look back. More than that, they think they have a total grasp on who they are. You're so sure that you know exactly who you are, what you want, and what your life will turn out to be. And you know what? Pretty much none of us get that right. Most of us— myself included— are totally different now than we thought we've at 21. Life takes some totally unexpected turns and you somehow learn to just go along with it and find your footing as you go along.

I'm not sure I would trade any of it— making mistakes is part of how you learn and grow. But a lot of people wish they could save themselves some heartache and unnecessary angst by going back and sharing some advice with their younger self. That it's OK to take risks, that you don't need to compete and give in to peer pressure, and that everyone makes mistakes. And some of us make really, really big ones. Even now, I'm sure I don't have it figured out. You could probably make a list of 'quotes I wish I had known at 29' and 'quotes I wish I had known at 39, 49, 59'. But as you get older, you get more and more comfortable with learning as you go. Because, as hard as it might be sometimes, that's part of the fun.

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