Five things I wish I could tell my 21-year-old self
Turning 21 is a confusing milestone – it’s the age that’s hyped up and often accompanied by a big-ass party, despite the age not having any real significance any more. You’ve spent a solid year as a twenty-something and you probs don’t feel as mature and worldly as you thought you would. It’s the time where you’re expected to make big decisions, but you still feel like you have no fucking clue. If you feeling a little lost, take note of the things I wish I knew when I was a fresh-faced 21-year-old.
Now is the best time to travel
Seriously, now is your time. It's one of the few times in your life when you'll have lengthy holidays (thanks uni) and not a lot of commitments holding you back. Instead of making the most of this, I was too busy working two part-time jobs and worrying about taking time off. But there will be plenty of time to work later. Of course you’ll need to work your butt off to afford travel, but you should worry less about that hospo job which you'd never want to turn into a full-time gig. Travel is always 100 per cent worth it and when done on a budget, is a lot more affordable than you'd expect.
There’s nothing wrong with deferring a semester
When I was 21, I was in the middle of a double degree where I would change my mind every week on which one I was going to drop. I had a love-hate relationship with both and honestly didn’t know which degree I wanted to pursue, or whether I wanted to pursue neither. A semester off would have done a world of good in helping me figure it all out. I now realise I could’ve just one degree and saved myself a whole lot of HECS debt. If you’re unsure, there’s no better time to take a break.
Work on yourself, not your appearance
I cringe at the amount of money I spent on fake tan – it was so unnecessary. I also went through a phase where I was obsessed with losing weight for all the wrong reasons. I did lose the weight, and was I happy? Not at all. I was instead I used that time time to develop as a worldly, interesting person. Twenty-one is the age to discover and pursue the interests that will make you a well-rounded person. Focusing on your appearance requires so much time, money and effort, which takes away from the valuable things you could be doing.
Invest in quality, not quantity
This applies to a few things in your life – for example, your wardrobe. It seems so much more rewarding when you’ve picked up 10 bargain items from a sale at H&M or Forever 21, but chances are the clothes are either poor quality, going to look outdated really soon or you don’t even like them, you just bought them because they were cheap. It might seem expensive to buy good quality clothes, but it’s an investment when it’s a classic item that will last you for years.
The same mantra can also be applied to your friendships. Cherish a couple of close friends and work on your relationships with them, rather than having lots of superficial friendships.
You don’t have to be ready for the real world yet
There will be some people who graduate and are immediately ready to get a grad job at the age of 21. But you shouldn’t feel bad if that’s not you. I definitely didn’t feel like I was ready to take on the world of full-time work at that age, so I stayed at uni for a couple more years. If you’re graduating this year and you still don’t feel ready, consider taking a gap year or looking into your post-grad options. You don’t have to rush in the real world, there’s plenty of time.