21 Lessons for the 21-Year-Old Me

Later this week I turn 26, so I thought it'd be interesting to reflect on some things I've learned over the past 5 years and give the younger me a little advice.

Now, I don't regret anything I did back then, nor do I wish to change anything, because it all brought me to where I am today. That being said, there are definitely a few tidbits of information that could have helped me out along the way.

So listen up 21-year-old Kevin, you've got a lot to learn.

 

1. You’re Not That Cool

I know you think you’re the shit because you go to a good school and have a good major and have lots of friends and are involved in lots of cool things.

You’re not.

There’s a fine line between being confident and being a cocky asshole. Know the difference.

2. Your Degree Won’t Guarantee Anything

Not money. Not stability. Not success. Not happiness.

The sooner you realize that your degree isn’t some magical safety net that will protect you from all the world’s problems, the better. 

3. Practice Personal Development

Read books. Listen to podcasts. They will change your life.

4. Develop Strong Daily Habits

Wake up at the same time everyday. Workout at the same time everyday. Go to class and study at the same time everyday.

The more structured you make your life, the more freedom you’ll have.

5. Set Goals

Be specific. Challenge yourself. I know you're just trying to get through this thing one day at a time, but dig deeper and think of the big picture. Set dates on the calendar and stick to them.

6. Be Intentional with Your Time

You’ll never get this time back.

Spend it with people you care about doing things you care about.

7. Don’t Pee on that Building

Bro, hold it ‘til you get home.

8. Surround Yourself with Positivity

The music you listen to, the videos you watch, and (most importantly) the people you hangout with should all build you up. They should motivate you and encourage you to be better. If they don’t, then move along.

9. Surround Others with Positivity

Your friends are capable of incredible things. Don’t shoot down their dreams and ideas because they seem out of reach or unrealistic. Support them.

10. Have Meaningful Conversations

Get past the surface level "What's your major? Where are you from?" questions and really get to know people. Find out what drives them. Uncover their character.

This is the only time in your life that you'll be surrounded by so many different personalities from so many different backgrounds. They may not share your exact interests, but you can learn a lot from those people.

11. Express Gratitude

You didn't get where you are now without peers and mentors paving the way. Let them know how much you appreciate them.

12. Appreciate Brittany More

It takes a special woman to put up with you and your friends’ antics. Recognize that. Tell her you love her. Support her in the pursuit of her dreams.

One day you’re going to marry that girl (but you already know that).

13. Don’t Throw that Sign at that Bus

No comment.

14. Be a Big Fish in a Small Pond

You're involved in a lot, which is great, but don't spread yourself too thin. You'd be much better off picking one or two organizations/jobs and giving them your all.

By trying to do so much, you're just scraping the surface and doing the bare minimum. Focus on the things you truly care about and let go of the rest. It's the only way you'll reach your potential.

15. Pursue Your Passion

The whole, "do what you love" speech isn't just some BS motivational nonsense.

It's real.

People make careers doing what they love everyday.

Believe it.

You don't have to change your major or drop out of school, but take small, actionable steps everyday toward pursuing your passion and I guarantee it will change your entire outlook on life.

16. Ask Yourself, “What Would You Do Everyday Even If You Didn’t Get Paid For It?”

Do that.

And then find a way to get paid for it.

Also, ask yourself, "What would you do everyday even if you had all the money in the world?"

Do that too. Chances are, they're the same thing.

18. “If you live for the weekends and vacation, your shit is broken.”

I don't expect you for one second to understand this, but one day it will make sense.

Despite what you may think, you don't have to absolutely dread Sunday night-Thursday afternoon. You can make it just as good, if not better, than the weekend.

Study things that you enjoy studying rather than things you think will make you money one day. You can fail at something you don't want, so you might as well take a chance on something you love.

19. 3 Nights a Week on Dirty 6th is a Bit Excessive

Dude.

Seriously.

I promise Aquarium won't go out of business without you.

20. Explore the City

You live in Austin, Texas. One of the best cities in the world.

Don't take it for granted.

Get outside of the campus-downtown bubble and take it all in. Eat at more local restaurants, see more shows, hike more trails, and swim in more lakes.

21. Live in the Moment

Five years from now, you won't remember studying for that test or watching that episode of TV or playing that video game. You'll remember the times you spent with the people who matter most.

Make memories.

Those "if we leave right now..." moments don't come often, so when they do, jump in.