10 Eye-Opening Things You Should Know When You’re 21 Years Old

Turning 21 years old can be a rude awakening and one that prompts a mini quarter-life crisis for many. Find out why it’s not the end of the line for you as a young adult.

Updated 19 Jul 2019

10 Eye-Openers You Should Know at 21 Years Old - Feature-Image

So you’ve just turned 21 — you’re officially an adult! This calls for celebration since you’re now legally allowed to do almost anything, including consuming alcohol and voting in the next election.

But beer and politics aside, turning 21 may not be as exciting to those who don’t like change and the thought of growing older. Fret not, we’re here to shed some light on 10 eye-openers that will help you prepare for the next chapter in your life.

#1. It’s not the end of your (social) life

Things to know at 21 years old-Not The End Of Social Life

There’s a huge difference between work life and the final years of university compared to your schooling days. There’ll be no more wild parties and flexible schedules when you’re working, but it doesn’t mean that you need to cut off socialising completely.

Although you may not want to have a long night with your pals after work because you’re just too tired, you can still have a nice dinner. This goes the same if you’re feeling bogged down by your final year project for university — everyone needs to eat, so use that time to take a break and catch up with friends.

#2. It’s time to properly plan your finances

Things to know at 21 years old-Time To Plan Your Finances

No matter your age, you’ve probably felt the pinch every time you splurge on clothes or even a meal (RM25 for spaghetti carbonara?!).

If you’ve moved out to live closer to work or uni, you’ll have more financial commitments to consider every month — utility and phone bills, car payments, rent, study loans and monthly groceries.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to live on bread and water every day to save money. Instead, create a budget for yourself and do the following:

  • Allocate funds to pay off monthly bills and loans
  • Designate a fixed amount for necessities such as groceries and petrol
  • Assign a small fraction for miscellaneous activities such as entertainment, eating out and clothes
  • Save whatever you have left

When you keep track of your expenses, you’re able to find out your spending habits and in time, you will have control of your finances like the proper adult you are! On top of that, you won’t have to ask your parents for money.


 Try to save at least a quarter of your monthly salary. To help you do this you could automatically transfer some money to a second bank account every time you get your salary.

#3. New friendships can benefit you

Things to know at 21 years old-New Friendships Can Benefit You

Although you may feel like you’ll never click with people the same way as you’re vibing with your current friends, it still doesn’t hurt to build new relationships. You never know, you may just meet an inspirational soul who motivates you to be the best version of yourself.

The younger you are, the more energy you have to go out, mingle and meet new people. When you do this, not only will you make new friends but you’ll also increase your chances of meeting people who could potentially help you in the future. For example, if you’re looking for writing jobs but can’t seem to find any, you might just meet someone (who knows someone else) that could help you. So the next time you go out, don’t be afraid to talk to new people and network.

#4. Never give up on your goals

Things to know at 21 years old-Never Give Up On Your Goals

Successful people such as Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey and J.K. Rowling all started from humble beginnings and had to overcome many obstacles before landing their big break.

Know that you won’t “make it” immediately but that’s okay. In fact, it will take years of humility, grit, and patience if you want to get to where you want to be. Each obstacle and challenge you encounter and overcome will be a lifelong experience gained, so don’t give up!

#5. Be more aware of the world you live in

Things to know at 21 years old-Be More Aware Of The World

As a newborn adult, you should read more newspapers and watch the news to stay updated about the current events going on around the world, especially in Malaysia. After all, everything that’s reported will affect you in one way or another.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to watch the news every day. Just venture out of your comfort zone once in a while to gain more knowledge. Not only will you be more informed (which will come in handy when you want to vote, travel or study abroad), some topics will make great icebreakers at networking events and parties.

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#6. Stay active

Things to know at 21 years old-Stay Active

Although most individuals still have high metabolisms (when your body burns fat faster) at the age of 21, it doesn’t hurt to keep fit and active. This will make it so much easier for you to stay in shape towards the end of your twenties when your metabolism tends to slow down.

If you don’t like going to the gym, opt for sports such as futsal or badminton with your friends instead. Alternatively, you could also go jogging at a nearby park or enrol in exciting dance classes located near your area.

#7. The future is unpredictable

Things to know at 21 years old-Future Is Unpredictable

When you come of age, you may start to worry that you’ll have to get a job based on your degree and that you have to work within the same field until you retire. What if you change your mind about the field you choose?

Don’t worry because that won’t always be the case. The only constant about life is change. As you progress through life, your ambitions, plans and goals may change over time. Not only that, you may also go through multiple jobs in different industries throughout your lifetime, and that’s okay, as long as it leads you to your newfound objectives.

#8. Don’t date the bad ones for too long

Things to know at 21 years old-Dont Date The Bad Ones Too Long

Now that you’ve stepped into adulthood, don’t waste your time on relationships you know won’t work out — especially if you want to settle down sooner rather than later. Although your twenties is the perfect time for you to meet your future partner, finding the right one will take some time. So don’t waste precious moments on the wrong guy or gal.

But how do you know if you should stay in a relationship? Simple. If you find yourself constantly asking if you should stay, then there must be something wrong. According to relationship expert Samantha Burns, a relationship without trust and a lack of communication will not last long.


 Still can’t decide if you should go or stay? Here are 7 things to think about before you make a decision.

#9. You don’t have to have everything figured out

Things to know at 21 years old-Dont Need To Have Everything Figured Out

Stop worrying about your future — it’s only just beginning!

You don’t have to start worrying about owning your own car or house at this age, nor should you begin your climb to the top just yet. Ignore the naysayers and baby boomers because you can still afford to travel and enjoy life while learning what the world has to offer.

Take some time off for yourself if you feel overwhelmed about deciding on your future. But be careful not to burn too much time or risk being left behind.


 If you’re unsure of what to study and which career path would best suit you, get free advice from our friendly education advisors here.

#10. Don’t fall into the YOLO trap

Things to know at 21 years old-Dont Fall For YOLO Trap

Despite what many people and articles say, don’t be a “YES!” man to everything thrown your way as it could eventually affect your bank account or personal health. Be confident enough to decline nightly clubbing and drinking sessions, low-interest credit cards or something as “harmless” as a sale at your favourite store.

Moderation is key when it comes to these short-term gratifications as they can do more harm than good when you face the consequences later (e.g. killer hangovers, credit card debts, clutter in your wardrobe), so try to resist the temptation.

The real world may seem like an intimidating place when you’re just starting out as an official adult, but we’re sure that you’ll come out on top, or at least survive it. So just kick back and enjoy what life has to offer… you never know, your most memorable moments could be just around the corner!

Is your fear of failure stopping you from living your life to the fullest? Here are 6 reasons why you need to experience a big, fat failure.

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.