Twenty-One

I turned 21 in January.

From the day I was born, those who were wiser and older than me gave me gentle guidance as I grew up. It went from “make sure you eat your vegetables so you can grow strong!” to “study harder” and “don’t give up!” In a way, those pieces of advices were like our vegetables. It doesn’t really taste delectable, but it’s required to grow. Sometimes you would hear things you don’t want to, but you knew that it was necessary.

Throughout my life, I’ve met a plethora of people and believe it or not, everyone I’ve met has had some impact on my life. There were some people who were still figuring out where they were, but I was also doing the same so I wasn’t able to offer the appropriate guidance they wanted. There were some people who already figured things out, but to them, all I could offer was a hello, my name is Alice. There were some people who shouted too loud and it hurt my ears and those who spoke too softly and I leaned in too close to try and hear what they were saying. There were some people who laughed with me, gave me hugs when I needed someone and fed me when I couldn’t get out of bed. There were also people who smiled brightly, but poison streamed out of their mouths, but I soon learned who to stray away from. And there were people who taught me how bright life actually was.

I chose to write this blog post honoring my 21st year because I’m well aware of immense changes that come along with it from the beginnings of the search for my future, solidification of my identity and the entrance of the bulk of my twenties. So far, I can surely attest that I certainly feel different with new experiences being thrown my way, but instead of cowering in fear, I’m finally able to stand up straight and look at it straight in the eye. It’s not arrogance, but the ability to see where I’ve come from. I still struggle and I still shake, but I know my strength.

From the day I turned 21, I started asking those who were older than me to share what they had learned from when they were 21. None, some or all may pertain to you and some could contradict for you. I’d like for you to look at each piece of advice as its own, but also carrying the unified theme of becoming 21. Take what you need and leave feeling a little better about yourself.

I want to thank each person who contributed to this wonderful list! 🙂 Thank you for handing me your own wisdom experienced through trial and error to help us embark on our journeys, 21 years old and beyond. While your gesture may appear small, it will be beneficial in the long term.

21 Pieces of Advice:

  1. With greater pain, comes greater reward because failure is a part of life that is to be embraced, felt and concurred.
  2. Always be tenacious and persistent.
  3. Love your dream like you love your family.
  4. Treasure the time you’re given.
  5. You have a voice – a beautiful one that people need to hear.
  6. Keep trying to find yourself and work towards your ambitions even if they’re scary. Adult life doesn’t get easier, so it’s important to stay optimistic and keep your sense of self.
  7. Don’t take things too seriously. It’s okay to not have everything figured out, so be silly!
  8. Once you made a decision, go with it and fight for it, but think one more time before taking action.
  9. Your life may not turn out as you plan now. But it is okay. Trust God for your identity and do your best.
  10. Optimize what you can, but also realize that there will be times you will fail, so you should continue to persevere since God is there with us every step of the way.
  11. When God wills you to do something that you are yourself passionate about, take care not to fuel your work by your own passions rather than by the sole desire to follow God. Righteous and fun things have eternal value; the rests are fleeting vanity.
  1. Take the time to write down things that you have learnt, lest you should miss important lessons about God and about yourself. Do not aim for long passages, sum things up first and write your reasoning afterwards.
  2. Praise God unceasingly.
  3. Be open to plans other than your own; they work out better.
  4. Go into every class, meeting, and interaction with excitement and intent.
  1. It’s okay to be lonely and just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you have to feel alone. Try and embrace it and spend time doing things that you love.
  2. Try not to force a relationship with someone because it’ll never work that way.
  3. Don’t try to spend too much time trying to please every friend. Sometimes you make other people expect more of you than what you can normally offer because they got used to you pleasing them. Spare your love and gifts for special moments, and share them wisely. Some friends will physically be separated from you but still think of you as a great friend even if they don’t see/talk to you for months, others will start to dislike you when you don’t cling to them all the time. When that is the case (which it is), focus your energy on the former because they give you (and themselves) the biggest space to grow in every way. When you meet this kind of friend again after several months, their growth can astonish you and inspire you, and you can do the same for them.
  4. Drink when you can.
  5. Don’t go to grad school; don’t be afraid of testing out the job market.
  6. Don’t read the comments section and don’t procrastinate in organizing things on your laptop.
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