Things You Should Know Before Turning 21 A little cheat sheet to get you going.


I turned 21 some months ago and while I’m evidently still not dead from all the things in this list I haven’t been doing, I’m trying my very best.

Here are things you should probably know by now, especially if you’re hopping on the 21 train soon. (Some are pretty self-explanatory, others are not, but I did all the dirty work for you.)

  1. On Drinking

This had to be the first in the list, otherwise, I’d flip. (Mainly because the amount of people who still practice unsafe drinking is off the charts, it’s an insane statistic!)

  • Know your limits, don’t get too comfortable with booze. Drinking isn’t bad if it’s done in moderation. Don’t be the most drunk out of your group.
  • Also, if you don’t feel comfortable drinking, it’s okay! You don’t have to. If you’re with people who pressure you into it, ditch them and find better friends.
  • You should be able to get home safely with or without a chauffeur. Don’t drink beyond your means. (Repeating this to remind! you!)
  1. On Financing

This is very, very, very important!

  • Managing your own money is no easy task, but it’s not rocket science either! If you learn how to budget, no longer will you be living from paycheck to paycheck. This is also especially applicable to people who are still living off allowances. Try and see what you can cut back on if the going gets tough – but know that it shouldn’t reach this point if you pay enough attention.
  • Fair warning: credit cards aren’t free, electronic money. Understanding credit and how it works in general can save you hundreds, maybe even thousands, of dollars. Try to be conscious of your spending habits and always keep track. I’m not saying credit cards are a bad idea, I’m just saying there’s a way of using them responsibly.
  • Save. No matter how much, no matter where. Just save, save, save, and make a habit of it.
  • Realizing the value of money and how hard it is to earn will do you wonders – it’s definitely a place to start. Remember, you shouldn’t be spending more than you’re earning.


  1. On Independency

Whether or not you’re living on your own, this is applicable to you. The basics of life, such as cooking, grocery shopping, doing the/your own laundry, how to fill in forms, first aid, car maintenance and changing flat tires.

  • Learn how to cook the right meals, and how to shop for the right ingredients. You can do this without blowing off money, and this gives you a reason not to rely on unhealthy takeaways. Effective grocery shopping is a thing you should look up online and take very note of. (Or give a responsible adult a call and have them tell you how it’s done.) And don’t forget: know what belongs in the fridge, and what belongs in the cupboard! Very important!
  • Same with doing your own laundry. Dedicate a day every single week on doing them so they don’t pile up. Knowing the basics like separating the colors from the whites, choosing the right type of detergent, using the right amount, and other stuff will be of huge help.
  • You will be filling in all sorts of forms your entire life. Better learn how to properly do it early on. The amount of people who still don’t know their own postal codes, or how to do their own taxes (which isn’t hard, by the way; it just takes time to learn), will surprise you. Same goes with insurance of any sort.
  • Basic first aid will go with you wherever life ends up taking you. You, or any other person within proximity, will need it at some point. Educate yourself.
  • Simple car maintenance like changing your oils, oil filters, and flat tire will save you hundreds of cash. If you can physically barely lift a tire, though, then at least knowing who to call when such dilemma strikes would be ideal.
  • Always clean up after yourself! Wherever you are.
  • Much like your laundry, don’t let small tasks pile up. Keep the two-minute rule in mind: if it’ll take you less than two minutes to do the task, then do it straight away and cross it off your list. These things become big, daunting errands over time if not taken care of immediately.
  1. On Sex

Don’t act like you don’t do it. (And if you’re not doing it, then that’s great, too! Please don’t let anyone pressure you into having it. Only you can decide.)

  • Pee after, always. You’ll thank yourself once you dodge multiple, deadly, God-awful UTIs.
  • Use some form – any form – of contraception. Children are expensive, especially if you aren’t ready. So don’t make the mistake of just pulling out. The withdrawal method isn’t reliable and it sure as hell ain’t doing you any favors. Be a responsible adult and save yourself the hassle of an unwanted pregnancy.
  • Have yourself (and/or your partner) tested. You know which one, and you know why. You also have to know who to consult and what to do should you be potentially infected.
  • Knowing what to do should you fall victim to sexual assault of any form. This includes knowing who to call and knowing where to go. Don’t choose silence.
  • You are allowed to say no. Even to your husband/wife/partner/boyfriend/girlfriend. (Most especially to people you aren’t romantically involved with.)
  1. On Yourself

We all need reminding sometimes. Totally understandable.

  • Take care of your health. Nobody else is going to do that for you. Allot time for exercising, and make sure to always eat right. You can still eat some of your fast food favorites, just be sure you’re not consuming them 24/7.
  • Felt like this had to be an entire category on its own. Have an outlet for your mental health issues. Whether it be writing, reading, painting, jogging; your passion should come in handy at anxious times, or depressing days. Learning how to carefully manage your battles will save you stressful days.
  • Enjoy life. You’re not shit old, but you also aren’t getting any younger. Learn how to balance, and everything will follow and hopefully fall into place.
  • Communication is always key. Learn how to articulate your thoughts, arguments, and feelings accordingly. Getting a point across without being offensive to other parties is possible. Master the art.
  • Try and leave it all in the past. A healthy, loving heart will do nothing but good.
  • Ditch the toxic people and love yourself.
  • Spend time with your loved ones. Time is a funny thing you can never earn back.
  • You can’t control the universe. Look to yourself for happiness and peace.
  • All of this? Not cookie-cutter advice. Being smart is recognizing which ones to follow at certain points in time, or for specific situations in life.

I’m no hypocrite. Half these things I’m honestly still really clueless about, but I wake up every single day and try my hardest. Hopefully, before I add another year, I at least learn what I ought to.

This list helps keep things in check. Let’s all be responsible young adults and kick life’s (sometimes rude) ass.


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