21 questions to ask and answer when you turn 21 years old

#4. What does good health look like — is it enough to have a body that looks good in a swimsuit or do I want a sharp mind and a strong body that will hold my soul?

Photo by Sylas Boesten on Unsplash

It isn’t pleasant being 21 — to some people you’re a child and to many others, you’re an improperly formed adult. Neither of these labels can capture the glorious mess that being 21 really represents.

There is a sense of urgency to get somewhere in life while there is also a feeling of having ‘arrived’, while not quite knowing where exactly.

Over the years I’ve collected memories, experiences and lived through my share of adversity to realize that there are a few things I wish I had decided for myself when I was 21.

This article aims to help you with this process of defining the kind of person you want to grow into.

I present to you 21 questions that you need to answer for yourself to make sense of a rapidly changing world.

I’m no longer 21 years old but I keep returning to these questions whenever I need to center myself. I hope that these questions will serve you in a similar fashion.

Let’s get into it.

  1. In my life, do I want ‘privilege’ to mean wealth, legacy and power or do I want it to mean the various acts of kindness I’ve performed and the lives I’ve impacted in a positive manner?
  2. Does success come from the approval of my peers even if it means my internal peace is disturbed or does success come from having internal peace even if I am breaking a few unwritten rules of the society?
  3. Does happiness mean being well liked, and respected or does it mean doing my best even if no one really likes or understands what I am doing?
  4. What does good health look like — is it enough to have a body that looks good in a swimsuit or do I want a sharp mind and a strong body that will hold my soul?
  5. Do I want my identity to be defined by how well I am doing compared to my peers in college, at work or in my extended family? Or do I want to be my own person and run my own race and hit a target no one else can see?
  6. Would I be willing to suffer through years of hard work for a happy ending that may or may not arrive? Or would I like to take a path that gives me immediate feedback but may have rewards very different from the first path?
  7. Is it okay to break the rules if everyone else (including the people I respect) is doing it?
  8. Do I keep all the promises I have made to myself?
  9. Do I keep all the promises I have made to other people?
  10. If everything were to be taken from me— wealth, social status, people, what will remain that can never be taken from me?
  11. If I had only 11 days more to live, how would I treat the people around me, who would I call/ who would I forgive and forget/what should I finish before my time is up?
  12. Am I doing this to get more likes/shares/ peer approval or am I doing it because it is important to me?
  13. When you encounter something you think you aren’t ready for — is getting angry/offended/upset/scared going to solve the problem that is in front of me?
  14. When you’re having a bad day — why am I doing what I am doing? What’s the big dream that I am going after? In the scheme of things, is this bad day significant enough to make me give up?
  15. When you’re underestimated /looked down upon/disrespected — have I done the right thing according to my internal value system and morals? If no, can I change things or apologize? If yes, is it reasonable to feel ashamed because what I did doesn’t agree to someone else’s value system? Why?
  16. When things go badly even after you’ve done your best — am I going to die from this or is this just a temporary setback? What’s the next best thing I can do to fight my way out of this situation?
  17. When you’re having an unlucky streak for days/weeks/months — what aspects of this situation can I control? Am I doing everything that I can with the elements that I can control or can I do more?
  18. When you know you have to let people go — do I keep going back to this person/these people because I am afraid of being alone or do I really value the relationship I have with them? If it’s the former, how can I become comfortable being by myself and building relationships with people that inspire me?
  19. When you make mistakes and hesitate to ask for help — what’s the worst thing that could happen if I ask for help? How much will I gain from knowing the answer to this question/getting the help that I need?
  20. When it’s a question where your head and your heart want different things — is there a way to test out both and know for sure which direction you want to take? If yes, what is the best way to do both things? If not, which course of action would I take if I knew I wouldn’t fail?
  21. At the end of each day — am I proud of what I have done today? In which area of my life should I be doing more?

The key to really leverage these questions is to answer honestly. No one else needs to know the answers to these but you. Just make sure you’re being completely real with yourself, especially when it isn’t easy.

And most importantly, remember you wont be 21 years old forever. Enjoy the uncertainty and the thrill of it. And no matter how old you are when you’re reading this — remember that it always gets better.

Breathe. Do your best!

Author of 'How to be a Lighthouse'. I write for those pursuing excellence and meaning.

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