Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What I wish I knew when I was 21

Yesterday, my baby sister turned 21.


Clearly, 'baby sister' isn't an appropriate phrase any more.

Part of me, though, will always think of her in those terms. She is the only person who I have known for their entire life, in the sense that I can remember every year of her 21 years. My brother was born when I was 3, so I don't have any memories of him until he was a few years old. My brother and I grew up together; my sister grew up with us watching over her.


Yesterday our celebrations were family-focused, with dinner and cake in the evening. The main celebrations are happening at the end of the week. My sister is the first of us siblings to have a 21st party and in true fashion she has jumped in to do it properly. There will be 70 people, a hired venue, 84 cupcakes (which we will be making...), and speeches by an assortment of people that includes me.

In other words, we are sisters but there are some pronounced differences between us :-)


Today, I want to write a post for her. In addition to being the only person who I have known for their entire life, she may just become the second person (after Mr Bite) to know about this blog...


What I wish I knew when I was 21

It’s ok to make your own path. Fitting in with others can only take you so far - and it’s not always the best thing to do.

The little things count so much more than the big things. Find pleasure in something every day. Make time for the things you enjoy.

Politeness generally pays off. Rudeness may backfire. That applies to others too. Rude people are likely to get their punishment without you becoming involved.

Real friends accept you for who you are, even if you look, act or sound different to them. Real friends deserve to be treasured.

Acceptance is a hard thing to achieve. It’s also one of the most important things we can do. If you can accept yourself, others and the world - it makes a huge difference.

The world is a big place. Some problems fade when they are put into context.

Whilst it’s good to put things in context, it’s also ok to have a bad day. You might still have problems, even if other people have bigger ones. 

Take risks sometimes. Playing it safe only gets you so far. Follow your dreams. 

Play it safe sometimes. Risk isn’t always the right choice. Trust yourself to pick the path that matches the occasion.

Have enough confidence in yourself to pick yourself up if you take a risk and it doesn’t work out. 

Because the world is a big place, there are many ways to live one’s life. Travel, work, relationships…there are a multitude of options and none of them are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.

Care about things. About people, causes, events, philosophies. Not caring is safer, but caring is more rewarding.

Allow yourself to love, even though you might get hurt.

Expand your horizons. Try something new. Read the news. Stay tethered to the bigger picture.

Know that money doesn’t buy happiness, even though it sometimes seems like it might. Also know that society carries certain requirements and commitments, which money can aid. Know what is ‘enough’ for you, with income and with possessions, and don’t be afraid to pick a different ‘enough’ level to those around you.

Never be afraid to change, and always seek to trust yourself.

Happy birthday!

What do you wish you knew at 21?

32 comments:

  1. what a sweet poem! Happy Birthday

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  2. I just love that photo of you holding your brand new baby sister. How gorgeous and precious is that image! Happy 21st to your sister and I'm glad she's celebrating in style. What a wonderful tribute to your sister you have written - great wisdom and advice for her to cherish for a long time to come xx

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    1. Thank you Charlie :) I love that photo too, there are a few similar ones that always make me smile. It was a really precious time!

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  3. Lovely post - good luck with the cupcakes - I hope your sister has a great party but I think I prefer the family celebrations too.

    Your advice seems full of wisdom. I would have liked to hear that when I was 21 though some of your advice is about judgement which I suspect I never had then (probably still don't). I would have added to my 21 year old self - don't worry about your career - they are still inventing so much of the software I now work with so don't even bother looking - just enjoy what is

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    1. That is very true - things change all the time but it's hard to realise that when you're just starting out (or even if you're not!). I spent so much of my younger years, and still spend a reasonable chunk of my current time!, worrying about the future but inevitably it's not very helpful. Enjoying what is would be a good motto for most things I suspect.

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  4. I love all of those reminders. I feel like we all need some of those reminders from time to time! Can't wait to hear about the party!

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    1. Oh I am sure you will :D Thanks!

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  5. Gosh Kari,
    I wish I'd remembered not to worry about life as much at that age :)

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  6. what a sweet post! i hope your sister sees it! :)

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  7. happy bday to the sis!!!! such a wonderful tribute, and it's funny because i kno wat u're talking about...my sis was born when i was 9 so i watched her grow into this person i am in awe of, inspired by, and love more than words!!! then i think back to when she was a baby...crazy!! :)

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    1. I know! It's such an amazing thing. Nice to hear that you and your sister have a similar scenario - I was 7 when mine was born and that age difference is really lovely I think.

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  8. Such a sweet post! I'm sure your sister will love the poem and your blog when she eventually finds out about it (surely you won't be able to keep it a secret forever). Have fun making cupcakes and enjoy the celebrations!

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    1. Thank you Mel! The cupcakes should be a fun time, although decorating 80+ does have even me a little daunted. At least we'll have enough for there to be some disasters to put aside, if needed :P

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  9. Beautiful post for your sister. I wish I had known to wear more sunscreen - actually I probably did know that but just ignored it!

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    1. Oh yes, me too! The foolishness of youth - I am far more aware of the sun now than I was at 21.

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  10. I LOVE this post Kari!! This is such a great list and an awesome way to tell you sister. :) You guys are going to have a great weekend! 70 people!!?? How cool is that?!!

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    1. Thanks Brandi! The 70 people is pretty mind blowing :P

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  11. I wish I had known SO MANY of these also. My little sister is 16 and I definitely intend on writing a post like this for her!

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    1. It seems like there are a few of us with much younger sisters - they are great fun to have around :) I hope you have fun writing your own post if you decide to do it when she's a bit older!

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  12. i wish i knew how to relax and stop worrying about everything!

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    1. I still need to work on that one I think!

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  13. Hmm, I'm not even 25 yet, but it is strange how much as changed between 21 and now. I don't even know what I wish I knew then...hmmm. I like your list though!

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  14. Wonderful, truthful, lovely post. Happy birthday to your sister!

    (BUT OH MY HEAVENS, seriously, you still haven't told people in your daily life about your blog?! But... when you take photos of your food, no one asks why? I still can't believe this, it makes me giggle so much :P )

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    1. Teehee, I know! But then, that may also be why I get fewer good food photos when out and about :P And thank you!

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  15. I totally understand not telling offline people about your online blog presence! I still feel a bit funny when people I know offline find out about my blog. I don't actively hide it, and if you google my name one of the first results is my blog, but it still feels like an invasion of some kind!

    Happy birthday to your sister, and what a lovely bunch of advice. I think the first one especially is so, so important, and should be something that all high school grads get stamped across their forearm so they can look at it every day!

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    1. I still need to remind myself of that one - of many of them in fact :) Thank you, and thanks for understanding about the blog privacy thing too! It is odd not telling people, but just feels too odd to tell them at the same time.

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