At 21, the most valuable lesson one can learn is that you are your own worst enemy. And while I believe that the most important decade in one’s life is their thirties — as the choices made in those 10 years will often determine the outcome of the rest of your life — one’s twenties will serve as a critical prelude.
Twenty-one is the most dangerous age of them all. We’re taught to invest into the notion that life is not about finding yourself, but rather creating yourself. It is at this age in which one constructs his or her sense of self that will navigate them through their remaining existence. This is one of life’s challenges, and one that many 21-year olds initially fail.
The conflict is that by the age of 21, many individuals have already succumbed to the notion that they have it all figured out. And this is where a pivotal crossroad arises, because it is here that one has to make a choice.
See, at that crossroad, there are two types of individuals: those who discover that they actually don’t have it all figured out, and those that remain defiant in their quest. Oddly, those that opt in favor of defiance are the very ones that typically have the most reasoning not to. They generally have individuals in their corner who have been at the crossroad — and learned from the experience of either success or failure — and want nothing more than to prevent them from making life-altering mistakes.
The problem at this stage, however, is that the techniques used — to convey messages to a 21-year old who feels invincible — often come in the form of constructive criticism. Though a valuable lesson that one needs to learn at 21, and carry throughout their life is that not everyone who criticizes you — and points out your flaws — mean harm. In fact, if surrounded by the right people, you’ll discover that most do it out of love. Tough love. And understanding that simply comes with maturity.
What one has to realize is that if they don’t shed their obstinate beliefs, they will burn promising bridges that may never have the opportunity to be rebuilt. Life is all about evolving and growing up. One must find the beauty in that reality. There’s no beauty in being 21, going on 16.