• Akosua Acheampong

5 things I know now, I wish I knew then - 21 vs 31

I recently (almost a year ago) said goodbye to an eventful, tumultuous and life defining decade; adios 20s and a big welcome to the 30s. Yes, I now tick a different box on the forms that groups me with 39 year olds and I will comfortably slot into the overs category of the X Factor; as old as that sounds to my forever young mind, this new decade presents a lot of exciting things to do look forward to.

Reflecting on the new almost 31-year-old versus the 21-year-old me, there are some major life lessons learnt and a lot of chapters I would like to rewrite, erase or simply pretend didn’t happen. But there’s that saying that the things we go through make us who we are, so perhaps If all those many mistakes did not happen, I wouldn’t be the super awesome, fantabulous, dope woman I am today (practicing some self-love here, leave me alone). So in the spirit of reflection, here are 5 things I know now, that I wish I knew then:

1. Hard work pays off

At 21, if you are/were like me, it was all about YOLO’ing the time away. Mix a little hard work and lots of play and you have the perfect recipe for a live in the moment life. I believe in living your best life and making the most out of every season and at 21, that doesn’t necessary include lots of hard work. Safe to say I did what was required to get by in life and attain some level of success but to say I worked hard would be a downright lie. And why would I? Besides stressful times completing my final year of university, my main focus was “turning up” and giving 21 a run for its money. One advice I would give myself would have been to buckle down a bit more and lay the foundations to my future so that the mid 20s would go a lot smoother once my YOLO days began to wind down.

2. What seems to matter now, won’t matter in 10 years

I sometimes look back at the things that used to keep me up at night and I laugh. All those apparent disasters and issues pale in comparison to real life problems. For example, I went to fit a new weave and the hairdresser completely ruined it or this guy didn’t call me back after our first date (sob stories galore). Back then, it felt like all hell was breaking loose at the slightest hint of a problem but life has a way of training you to be resilient. If I could tell the 21-year-old me to just chill out and stop being so dramatic, I certainly would. A lot of the apparent issues back then were not worth getting worry lines on my face for.

3. Find a passion and pursue it

There’s a bible scripture that says “your gift will make room for you”. Life is all about finding what you’re good at, mastering it and pursuing your passion. It doesn’t always come easy but it fills you with a sense of purpose and reason for life. Doors of opportunities open when you pursue your passion rather than going along a certain path just because it seems like the right thing to do at the time. My third piece of advice to myself would be to take time to truly find my passion and put my all into it. I got there in the end but I took a few wrong turns to figure it out.

4. Travel more

The day dreamer in me would tell the 21-year-old me to travel more. There is wealth of experiences to be had and so many amazing things to see on this great earth and it’s a shame when we limit ourselves to a 10-mile radius not really venturing out to broaden our horizons. I did a fair bit oh holidaying in my 20s but I would tell the young me to have invested in doing even more. Less of the partying holidays and more of cultural experiences and with so many travel websites offering amazing deals to fantastic destinations, it doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank either.

5. Metabolism will slow down

It just saddens me to even type this but I must because it is true. My mum used to always say to me “when I was your age, I was the same size or even smaller than you”. I’d laugh and carry on chomping on kebabs at 3am after nights out. Lo and behold, the metabolism is moving more at a snail’s pace and I have to actually put in serious effort to shift holiday weight. Of course this can be overcome by frequently exercising to slow down the rate of decrease but when you are semi allergic to a work out like I am, that alone is another challenge in itself.

All in all, I would give a big thumbs up to the 21 year old me for conquering some of her fears, pushing through on her dreams and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Overall, I don’t think I’ve done too shabbily.

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