The countdown is on. In less than a week I am turning 21. I’ll be an official adult, allowed to drink in America and rent a car in Greece. I’ll have finished university, had my first graduate job interview and voted for the first time. (I’m also moving back home but we can overlook this as it doesn’t sound very grown up.)
All of these developments got me thinking about how much has changed over the past three years; the world around me, my group of friends, and myself. I’ve changed, grown up, matured, learnt new things and seen more of the world. I’m much different compared to the person I was three years ago.
So, what would 21-year-old Beth tell the younger one?
- Take all the opportunities that come your way. It sounds very cliche when adults tell you to make the most of your young adult years.- “you’ll never have this much time again“. Unfortunately, this is true. As a student you have so much free time; time to have fun, spend time making new friends and having new experiences. This chapter of my life has just finished and I’ve already realised that my Dad was right. It was the best years of my life. So make the most of them. If you get the chance to travel, go. If you want to study abroad, do it. Meet new people, try new things. Enrich your life while you have the freedom to do so.
- Don’t take everything so seriously. There’s time for seriousness later, when real, full-time adult-ness happens. It may seem that responsibilities are piling up, and they will be, but it’ll be nowhere near the pile you’ll have later in life. Make the most of your youth. Have fun, joke around and try to find fun and happiness in everything.
- Confidence is attractive. When you’re a teenager, what people think about you seems like the most important thing in the world. News flash, it’s not. What you think about yourself is so much more important. Be yourself and be happy with it. No one else can be you. So stop looking in the mirror and ‘fixing’ your hair. Stop looking around the room and comparing yourself to other people. Don’t be afraid to wear that bikini on holiday or pull your hair away from your face. Be you, and show people who you are. Not who you think they want you to be. A happy, confident person appeals to others a lot more than a self-conscious one.
- Find your best friends and don’t put up with people you don’t get on with. You’ll learn that life isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not worth it. Why spend so much time with people you don’t get on with, just because you think they’re ‘cool’? Find your real friends, the ones who like the same things you do, who laugh at the same jokes, who support you and love you for who you are. The best ones are those who, no matter how much time passes without seeing them, everything is just the same when you meet up again. When distance and time make no difference to your friendship, they’re the friends to keep.
Here’s to many more years of fun, friendship and new experiences!