Three Things I Wish I Knew at 21 That I Know Now
Ten years ago, I was 21 years old. I had an ironclad plan for every aspect of my life, from what I would major in at university, to who I would marry and how many children I was going to have. I was set to become a journalist, marry my high school sweetheart, and have four children: two boys and two girls. I was ready for anything, until life happened and taught me three valuable lessons that I wish I knew then, but I am grateful to know now.
Lesson 1: Be Open to Change
For as long as I could remember, I had wanted to become a journalist. I liked (and still do) to read and enjoyed writing stories, so it seemed like the obvious choice. That was until I got the opportunity to volunteer at a preschool for a semester. I was very apprehensive at first as I had had limited experience with children up until that point. I was also only volunteering as a favor for a friend. So imagine my surprise, six weeks into the term, and I am borrowing books on Early Childhood Education, interviewing the teachers and administrators, and ultimately contemplating changing my major. The icing on the cake came when the school’s owner offered me a job as a teaching aid. Unknowing to me, she had been observing my interactions with the children and how much I was willing to learn and take initiative. Long story short, I am now a teacher and there is absolutely nothing else I would rather be doing than spending my time with tiny humans.
Lesson 2: Fall in Love With Yourself
People often suggest that the most important relationship you can have is with yourself, and I can definitely attest to that. I had spent most of my high school years with one guy and was set to marry him. In another unplanned turn of events, we grew apart after high school and instead of taking some time to recollect me, I stumbled from one relationship to the next. It was only until I experienced a painful break-up that I made the decision to leave the boys alone and focus on ME. I found time to do the things that made me happy and build myself mentally, emotionally, and financially. I read, journaled, exercised, and took myself on dates. I dated myself and ultimately fell in love with myself. It was at times challenging and lonely but in the end, when I did decide to date again, I was ready because I knew who I was and what I deserved. Three beautiful kids and almost eight years later, my partner and I continue to complement each other as we both have and continue to fall in love with ourselves and each other every day.
Lesson 3: There is Always a Lesson to be Learned.
Everyone we meet comes into our lives to teach us something, be it about ourselves or others. The same can be said for each of our life experiences. What we must always strive to do is learn. Life is many things and a learning experience is definitely one of them. There is a quote by Anil Kumar that goes, “ Don’t stop learning because life never stops teaching,” and it does not.
Ten years ago, I had a life plan, and what I have learned since then is that planning is important and necessary, but so is having a contingency plan, as things may not always go according to the plan. Ten years ago, I wanted to be a journalist, now I am a teacher who is in love with my job. Ten years ago, I had not realized the importance of self-love, but today I do.
I felt a sense of obligation to share my story. I realize that most of our readers may be where I was: on the verge of your twenties, diploma in one hand and a life plan in the next, ready to take on the world. I can only hope that my tips have and will come in handy as you all go through your own journey. I hope it is a great one, in which you never stop learning, loving yourself (and others), and being open to change.