life self-care Wellness

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 21 Year Old Self

August 27, 2015

Today I turn 26. 26 beautiful years on this planet. Some hard years, some amazing years, some lost years but a life lived without regret. Nevertheless, it’s still such a crazy feeling to look back in time and see how much you’ve grown.

Just when you think you have it all figured out you discover that you really don’t know anything at all.

10 Things I wish I could tell my 21 year old self
Yes, this is me at 21 – so sassy.

I wouldn’t change a single event along my course. They’ve all taught me something about myself and brought me to where I am today, which despite the official number I am still pretty damn stoked about.

But as I look back on my 21 year old self (exactly 5 years ago), I do wish I could tell that lost, young woman a thing or two. Perhaps you are there right now. If you’re anything like me you probably won’t listen to a word of this post, but rest assured that time will reveal it all to you. And if you’re more open-minded than I was, I hope you learn a thing or two.

10 Things I Wish I Could Tell My 21 Year Old Self:

1. It’s okay to love your parents and not listen to them.

Even when you defy them and challenge their notion of what they foresee in your future, if you’re adamant and hard-working, they will come around. And even if they don’t, a little self-reliance goes a long way. Sometimes that fire under your ass to perform is exactly what you need.

2. Wear sunscreen.

5 years from now you will genuinely start to fear skin cancer and wrinkles. Stop competing for the darkest shade of bronze; It’s a dumb decision. Also, hats are your friend and when all else fails, use bronzer.

3. Love is not the same as comfort.

Love isn’t because you’re scared of not being together or being alone. Don’t confuse the two. Love is knowing that you’d be just fine on your own but your life is infinitely better with that person. Also you’re about to meet the love of your life…hold on tight.

4. Losing those 10 pounds won’t make you happier.

This message will allude you but you’ll eventually come to understand it when you hit that goal and in the process make yourself more miserable. You’re allowed to want to improve yourself but how you feel takes precedence to how you look. Unfortunately you’re gonna injure the hell out of your back to discover this, but it’s a lesson worth living.

5. All of those Thought Catalogue articles you read about being in your 20s…they’re all true.

Yes, you’ll get lamer and movie nights become far more exciting than hitting the bars, but you’ll also love and appreciate how awesome it feels to wake and be productive. Also hangovers (on the rare occasion they do happen) are THAT much worse.

6. Friendships require work and it’s okay to give up on some to make room for the ones you want to invest in.

It’s not about quantity, but quality. Friendships are precious and necessary but don’t overload your life with half-ass friendships that don’t make you excited. Friends should add value to your life and you should add value to theirs. History doesn’t mean future, so let go of the friends you don’t connect with anymore without any shame or guilt. Hold on tightly and invest what you have in the friends you hold dear. They’re worth it.

7. Doubt doesn’t mean don’t.

It’s okay to be afraid of something and then do it anyway. It’s the situations you fear most that end up being the most rewarding. Use this with discretion but unless your life is in danger, feel your fears and do it anyway.

8. You’ll never regret rising above it.

Situations will occur where you are pushed to a point of anger and frustration. You will think that acting and sharing your mind is the solution, but trust that it never is. Give yourself time to absorb a situation before you act. 90% of the time you’ll choose to rise above it and when you look back you’ll be grateful that you did.

9. You don’t have to be who you think you are.

Don’t spend your life trying to fulfill a prophecy you have set for yourself. It’s okay to be inconsistent and outrageous. You think you know who you are, but you don’t. The only way to find out who that is is to step outside your comfort zone even if it’s well beyond the definition of who you believe you are.

10. Everything is going to be okay.

Things have a way of working themselves out. It doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be some struggle, but have faith that it will all be okay in the end. And breathe, my friend. Breathe deeply and powerfully.

Here’s a couple of things I hope I can tell myself 5 years from now (Holy 31!):

-Value comes from within, not any kind of external gratification. No amount of money, page views or gold stars will bring you happiness. You are the same person before and after these accomplishments. These are things that happen to you, but they are not YOU.

-Accept that there will always be more to do. Don’t let the stress of a never-ending to-do list rule your life. Enough said.

-Gossip, drama and everything that comes with it is never worth it. Eliminate your life of these toxins and the people who come with it.

-Communicate to others when you are unhappy or upset, don’t just pull away. Probably my #1 vice in life is running without sharing. It hurts others even if you think you’re protecting them.

I’m off to celebrate another year past! Have a slice (or two) of cookie cake for me! Thank you all for making this another memorable year <3


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  • Reply
    Kelsey Preciado
    August 27, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Happy Birthday Davida!! Honestly when I saw you were 26 (as am i) and have a brief moment of panic! I have a food blog too and my dream is to have that be my full time gig like you. BUT then I remembered #10 is so incredible true. Everything will work out in time and I have so many other things going my way. Your confidence and attitude towards life is SUPER inspiring and I love how transparent you are about everything. HAVE A KILLER B-DAY SISTA!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 1, 2015 at 7:07 am

      Kelsey! So excited to have company in the 26 year old food blogger club 😉 Keep at it! #10 is SO true. Things don’t happen overnight but life certainly does have a funny way of working out! xoxo

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Happy Birthday Lovely. Great advice.

    I’d tell my much younger self (think 16) not to get the tattoos and to stop smoking. Everything else I’d keep. 🙂

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 1, 2015 at 7:05 am

      I’d say that’s a fair assessment 😉

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm


    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 1, 2015 at 7:05 am

      Thanks, lady!

  • Reply
    Beverley Cheng
    August 27, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Happy Birthday Davida!! Hope you have an amazing day. Love that picture of you at 21… so much SASS!! and great list – the one that speaks to me the most is wearing sunscreen

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 1, 2015 at 7:31 am

      The sass certainly hasn’t changed in the last 5 years haha. Thanks so much!!

  • Reply
    Hillary | Nutrition Nut on the Run
    August 27, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    Happy Birthday darling Davida! I totally agree with #2 😉 #paleisthenewtan

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 1, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Let’s get that hashtag trending!

  • Reply
    Miss Polkadot
    August 27, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Advice I’d give my then 19-year-old self? Well … that’s a tough one. Okay, how about this first: Happy birthday, Davida! A happy birthday to the lady who amazed and inspired me by deciding to turn her whole career/life around and succeeded at it.
    I’d tell my younger self that it’s okay to not know everything and ask others for advice BUT if your heart doesn’t agree with their advice follow it in anyway. And right now that probably means taking your #9 to heart …

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 10:50 am

    I’ll try to remember all these things from now until I turn 21 (I’m 19 now). I’m just starting to grasp #4 and have finally accepted #7–sometimes the things we fear are the best things for us! And of course, everything will be okay. It all seems to work itself out. Thanks for the wise words!

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
    August 27, 2015 at 10:20 am

    Love this!! Especially number 9 right now. <3 Happy Birthday, Davida! You are one inspiring woman I hope to meet in "real life" one day! 😉 xoxo

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 27, 2015 at 10:52 am

      You are too sweet! I hope to meet you one day too!

  • Reply
    kaitlin @4loveofcarrots
    August 27, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Happy Birthday!!! I love doing posts like this, it really shows you how much you have grown over the years!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 27, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Thanks hun! And I LOVE hearing from you! Hope all is well with you, beautiful!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 8:44 am

    We are blog post twins today!
    This is great advice 🙂 Love that you said you wouldn’t change any event that happened — I totally feel the same way.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 27, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Total blog twins today!!! I like the way you think!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 8:35 am

    I wish I could tell my 21 year-old self that by following your heart and your dreams, you are doing what is right for you; don’t put pressure on where you think you should be at this age. Pull your focus to your dreams and closest relationships that will continue to support you.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 27, 2015 at 10:53 am

      AMEN SISTER!!! Seriously. I wish I’d done that sooner!

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 7:51 am

    So many things! 21 was rough for me, and arguably it was more 17-22 that didn’t go real well. But I agree, its important to acknowledge that you wouldn’t be where you are today, if you didn’t go through those things.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 27, 2015 at 10:51 am

      Same here. I wouldn’t change a thing but yeah, 17-22 was TOUGH. So happy to have grown up haha

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