21 Life Lessons I've Learned In 21 Years

April 15, 2016

In honor of my 21st I wanted to do something I'd never done on Je M'appelle Chanel before. Really discuss my life, raw, real, and some life lessons I've learned thus far. I also wanted to take some time to document my style at this age. Luckily, Emma (from Emma York Photography) had my back and we had such a great time taking these pictures in the rain.
21 Life Lessons I've Learned in 21 Years

1. Life is about the process, not the outcomes
2. Take big risks every once in awhile
3. Don't change for anyone
4. Hugs are okay
5. Say no
6. Spending your life gauging outcomes ruins the process of life
7. Books are sometimes the best company
8. Surround yourself with joy
9. Cooking with others is fun
10. Sometimes the worst thing that could happen, happens, and life goes on
11. Karma is real
12. You don't always know what you want
13. Make time to really take care of yourself
14. Stay gold
15. Don't let the moment pass, tell people how you feel about them whether it's reciprocated or not
16. Listen to NPR
17. True friends are the ones who will drop everything for you (and go to a Carly Rae Jepsen concert with you on a Tuesday)
18. Love with deliberation
19. Don't be afraid to speak your mind
20. Alwaysalwaysalways be grateful
 21. Moments of intense clarity can happen
It wasn't until this past December that I started having these moments of such intense clarity. People and things that had bothered me for years- unsolved relationships, unspoken feelings, broken friendships they all just seemed so clear. For once in my life I found solutions to feelings I had never been able to put to bed. In mere minutes. I finally found the words to say in letters and text messages that I had never been able to string together before. Although I'm not going to get into the fine details most of these issues are ones that have been strenuous and certainly tough on my self-esteem for a long time. I don't want to pretend that I have the all answers, because I don't. However I've found solace in the unresolved issues in my life that I never thought I'd find at this age.
These moments of clarity made me start thinking, maybe it's an age thing? Maybe turning 21 isn't going to be a milestone for my life in terms of fulfilling a twenty something tradition, but 21 was going to be something different.

21 was going to be a year filled with really being true to myself. Letting go of the the anchors that used to weigh me down. Accepting my weird quirks and differences that I've always shared among people my age. 21 for me is about something bigger than the twenty something traditions.

It's about honing in on the most important things I've learned in life so far. Avoiding the cliches, trying to let go, and accepting who I've always been.

My list of 21 things is inspired by a lot of things I've learned in the past year. Wise words I've learned from my marketing professor, Dr. Swinder Janda. A favorite quote from my all-time favorite show Suits. A theme I learned from a Carly Rae Jepsen song, and of course a few things I've picked up from my own observations along the way. I'm so grateful for everyday, my friends, my boyfriend, my family, my followers, and all the small things.

I'm also extremely grateful for my dear friend Emma York for helping make this post a reality. Without her insight and amazing photography I would truly be lost. I'm so grateful for you girl.

What are some life lessons you would tell your 21 year old self?
Thank you all so much for the kind, birthday wishes, and for looking at this post. 
I would really love for you to follow Emma's work on instagram, here.

Wearing: Shirt - H&M, coat - H&M (old), jeans - J Brand, shoes - Lord & Taylor, lips - Bare Minerals Pop of Passion in Plumberry Pop, nails - Peace, Love, & OPI


  1. This is such a lovely post and very inspiring! I wish you all the best and I hope you had a lovely birthday!
    xx, Carmen - http://www.carmitive.com

  2. 21 is a great age (I wish I was 21 now). very nice solutions!

    Inside and Outside Blog
    P.S. would you like to follow each other?

  3. I totally agree with all your life lessons -- and it's pretty great that you've sorted them all out at 21 because I'm in my 30s now and don't think I'd actually wrapped my brain around a lot of these until like a few years ago!

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

    1. Thanks Courtney! Feeling like Carrie Bradshaw every once in awhile is good haha.

  4. I'm sure you'll learn and experience a lot more at 21. You're beautiful. You deserve the best! <3

    SHAIRA // New Post- Lighthouse

  5. amazing look !
    please follow my blog : YOUNG BLOG

  6. Happy Birthday! 21 is such a wonderful age, enjoy every second of it! xx


  7. Wishing you a very happy 21st birthday. The 21st year is quite a fun one, but it looks like you've learned a lot already. :]

    // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

  8. Wishing you a happy 21st birthday! 21 is such a great age, wish I could back. And it's so refreshing to see what you have learned at such a young age!
    xo, Lily
    Beauty With Lily

  9. Happy 21st bday! You look beautiful! XO

  10. Happy Birthday - enjoy this year <3

  11. Happy birthday! Hope you had a wonderful day :)




  12. Happy birthday Sonia, I hope you had a wonderful day. These photos are gorgeous too! I love your list of lessons (#7...yes!!) and I think you have some great insights for your coming years!

    1. Thanks Mme! So excited for you and your family!

  13. 21 is a great age, there is so much to discover and so much to do! I hope you have a fabulous year and happy belated birthday!

    Ela BellaWorld

  14. Happy birthday! If you think you've learned a lot leading up to 21, imagine how much you'll learn between 21-30! I'm 28 and feel like I've lived three different lives between 21 and 28.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee | Etsy

    1. Thanks Connie! You're right I have so much to learn, I'm excited to see what life is going to bring!

  15. Happy birthday gorgeous! I love the balloons!


    1. Thanks Tina! Would recommend them haha they last forever!

  16. Such gorgeous photos! Congrats on being 21! You definitely learn a lot by this age, but there's so many more amazing lessons to come :)

    xx Yasmin

  17. I love 7, and 8, and 12, and 13, and 15, and 18, and 19, and 20, and basically all of them:) Your smile is contagious in these pictures, you look so lovely! My 21 year old self? I'd tell her to live it up. There is absolutely no going back, so I'd take advantage of any chance I get to be with friends I won't see at all a year later. I think I'd tell myself that it would be ok to make a few more mistakes - they wouldn't be the end of the world:) I hope you had a great birthday!
    Darling, Dearest

    1. Aw, thanks so much Emily you are too sweet. I love your advice I'm taking your life and trying to live it up!

  18. This is great post and I think, good inspiration to other younger girls who need a wise words. The older I get more confident I get and relaxed about things and people. I know who is worth to keep in my life and who not worth.
    Have a lovely weekend!


    1. Thank you Ramona! I'm glad you're having some clarity too!

  19. Happy Birthday ! This post is so amazing. :)
    Hope you will have a great weekend.


  20. Happy belated birthday! Thanks for the words of wisdom! Stay gold, Ponyboy ;)



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