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7 things to do at 21 by Chanda Chongo

Life after adolescence can be a lot more stifling than one can imagine. Turning 21 means that you’ve learnt some lessons from parents, friends and mere strangers—and that you’re ready to meet the real ordeal found in an idealistic-stitched world.

Growing up as a child, life seems to be a never ending sweet journey that will always serve man with the finest gold and platinum to clasp on, but when maturity starts to kick in you will realize that the world gradually becomes complex as you get older. When one is growing up, that pampering, slowly turns into an infused independence if reality is allowed to do the justice. Parents tend to shift gears when nurturing a teenage child compared to how they nurture a tweedy little toddler or even a 9 or 12 year old. So basically each step when growing up is blended with some sort of specific care to it.

Now, when you do away with adolescence, you automatically enter a world where living is a little bit scruffy when you play a sleeping-dog day in day out, a world that is more complex when viewed from various angles. It’s obvious at 21 you would have completed GCSE level, at least if you didn’t toss grades along the way. First; your parents will cut some certain expenses spent on you, next you’re sent to further your studies, if not, you’ll be persuaded to look for a part time job, at least one that will cater for basic needs like, cosmetics, clothes, accessories and other ‘easy-to-get stuffs. When you reach 21, you have to pick up a few skills that will guide you through in every circumstance you meet along your narrow way. These skills will not only blend you for a short period of time but will also be a stepping stone to reach the higher peak. These skills often times act as a foundation, if you really aspire to be an incredible person in the future.

So, what are some of the things you should do at 21? Well, it depends how you want your life to be in the few years or your entire future. Out of those many things you can do at 21, let us talk about 7 of them, yes, only 7. 7 things you should do at 21, if you really want to make a bang out there.

First of all, as a normal human being, you have to plan, set up a blue print that will guide you in every step you make, secondly, you have to execute your plan and turn your ideas into reality and finally you reap what you sow.

Now let’s look at some of the 7 things to do at 21


When we feel that it’s time to build something, the first thing we do is planning, right? Just like when a builder is building a house, a plan is always grafted to guide him in every step while erecting the building. Many a times people choose to suffer because they lack that planning theory, our lives turn into a trembling building before collapsing because we swept the planning theory under the carpet.

If you truly want to work out the jinx of life, you have to plan, for tomorrow and for the future. Set up some sort of draft that acts as a mirror to reflect pictures of how you will turn out to be in the next years to come, this helps you to stick to your goals, it helps define the content you meet along the way. At 21 you should be able to know what you want in life, what you want to achieve in a certain period of time and what you want to do with what you achieve. Once you know what you want in life, planning becomes an easy task to help you derive that which you want to acquire.

Take for instance if you figure out that you want to become a photographer, writer, designer or anything that makes a difference in your life, what do you do next? You plan how you’re going to kick it off right? How you will use your skills to build a concrete foundation and to achieve your goals. Planning your future as early as 21 years will certainly make it bright.


Are you still waiting for your government to call out names that will fill the inexorable capacities in its systematic ministries? Well, if you’re patiently waiting for you name to be called out then good for you, take a five.

Many teenagers are roaming around streets because they’ve nothing to do. Government has failed to resuscitate the livelihoods of people, especially youths. Like in Africa, a number of youths across the continent are jobless, some still grappling with the high poverty levels that swing on the continent’s atmosphere.

At 21 you should be able to discover yourself, your abilities, discovering what you can and you can’t do. When you discover that inborn ability in you, it becomes a choice as to whether you rise or walk on all fours and remain on ground zero.

Pick up your brushes, add a few strokes of paint on a sheet and see how things turn out to be. Honestly, using what you have to get what you want won’t require a rack sack of money as capital because you only need some basic stuffs to get started. If you’re good at photography, why not give it a try and take a few shots to see whether it will push you somewhere or leave you dormant. But it’s an assurance that it wouldn’t ditch you, like seriously. It’s through these small pieces that a bigger piece is formed. Not everyone is going to college or university due to financial constraints and other impediments. But if we all try to use what we have to get what we want, nothing will stop us from breaking through.


Start saving money for retirement at 21? Sounds weird huh?

Yeah, start saving money for your retirement. As the saying goes ‘the earlier the better.’ Imagine if you saved $5 or more a week for about 35 years, how much would you reap at 56, and probably as you grow older your financial savings gets a little bit stronger and thicker. So if you saved about $5 a week, you would probably get $9,100 (If my math hasn’t deceived me.)

Of course starting to save money for retirement at 21 is kind of funny and unrealistic because of the long way you walk just to reach the target, but hey, it’s rhetorically exhilarating when you give it a try. You don’t have to make it look like it’s draining the hell out of you. Just make it routine, let it be part of you, forget that you’re saving for retirement, just do it as if you’re doing for tomorrow and the end results will be exceptional, very (very) exceptional and you’ll be proud that you made the right decision in the first place.

Make sure at 21, you would have had an account already set up, it’s much safer and secure to wire your savings at the bank than dropping your cents in a box or bottle, or whatever people used in the past.

See, when you reach 21, most of the decisions are done by you (of course if they are right decisions) your parents will only guide you on how to tackle some of them and see to it that you’re always on the right lane at the right time.

So, basically, starting to save money for retirement at 21 is an ideal decision that will not only save you when your organization stirs some bad beans for you which may later on stress the hell out of you but it will also help you when you get stuck along the way. Remember that you can still thicken the amount you drop in into your savings, the more you earn, the more you put into the savings.


How much do you use in a day, week or month? Find out about that and get on your drawing board as soon as possible.

Most of the times we spend our money carelessly on things that aren’t needful in our daily lives. Check how much you’re spending in a week and ask yourself if you’re doing yourself justice, ask yourself if what you spending your money on brings back what you lose in the process. If you’re spending much on unnecessary stuff, you just have to revise your expenditure and cut off some expenses, like going for lunch 24/7 or shopping things that wouldn’t squeeze the life out of you if not gotten from the mall shelves. If you were to spend a minimal two days in a week without having lunch, would you die? Certainly not, you wouldn’t get broken; it’s just the matter of getting used. Take for instance if you spend about $4-$5 a day during weekdays, how much do you lose? You lose about $20-$25, and what if you cut off 2 meals, that’s for two days only, you save yourself a $10 bill that would be useful on other stuff.

If you also spend much on airtime, hey, try to cut off a bit there. Nowadays, communication has been simplified unlike the way it was in the past where we never had any social chatting sites, thus we would spend much when making a phone call, but today we have social networking sites that run on affordable data. So spending more money on airtime for communication shouldn’t be a justifiable excuse that you’re doing it for the sake of communication. You can buy weekly data, or four times in seven days, it won’t eat you up, moreover you have to spend some time for you alone, spend time away from social networking and meet up with friends, family or new people.

So, this idea of spending money on something that isn’t vital to your livelihood should be revised and scrutinized once and for all because there are things that are worth spending money on.


Time (time, time!) Did you know that time is the most valuable asset that every human being isn’t denied. How you use it, is what determines the shape of your success. How much time do you spend on doing something that is of important to you and your future? Ask yourself.

Many teenagers today don’t actually use their time well enough on things that are important and beneficial, thus they end up straying and engaging in all sorts of vices. But, what if you invested your time in success, how much would you reap? A lot, right? Exactly, time should be invested in something that pays well, be it your talent, studies, work or whatever you think will see you through to the top.

Every particular schedule on our daily living requires a specific amount of time that it needs to run on, thus for us to be on the right track and making sure that we aren’t mixing up things we need to split our time. If you’re studying, get yourself a certain amount of time that will cutter for studying only, if you’re working, do the same, if you will be meeting friends, do as wise. But remember that the time you invest in you should be taken seriously like any other important aspect in life.


At 21 you should be able to tell who your real friends are and who your passing-by friends are. Friends play an important role in our lives, they help us when things go bad, they’re with us through thick and thin and above all they always want to see the best out of us. However not all friends are as good as a green apple, some use us for their own benefit, some only infuse negative thoughts in us and some are as bad as cigarette smoke, they’re fun to hang around with but always damage our inner capacity for great things, they make our lives sweet without realizing that we aren’t even excelling to reach our goals.

As an aspirant for something great in life, you have to pick the right company of friends that will share common goals with you, friends that are always moving with you in terms of progress, friends that will be able to pull you when you get stuck, and friends that will pick you up when you get knocked down. At 21 you should be able to control your ship, know who gets in and who gets out of your voyage.


Look around, see what amuses you, and find out what inspires you to do great. Try to meet new people, both on social networks and the real world. There are great minds out there that are waiting to share knowledge with you, and when you meet them you’ll be grateful to find out that inasmuch as the world seems to be complex, there are great people who still exist. Hang around with them and get to learn some new skills that will help build up your future. See, inspiration is found in places where knowledge stands as a tool in multi-diversification pathways. Stick yourself in those ends and read between lines. You only become great when you meet great people. And don’t only hit on successful people, walk around places and see how people live, learn a few lessons from them and apply them to your mission.

Growing up isn’t difficult because it’s a natural process but living is, because life depends on how you handle yourself and how you fit yourself in a complex society. Many suffer because of what they missed out back then, because they didn’t build a foundation before erecting their buildings. If you were to start building your future at a tender age, everything would fall into place without you having to stress much on problems that rain when you get older. While you’re still capable of doing everything, invest in yourself, invest in tomorrow, and invest in your future because if you don’t do it now it will never happen.


Chanda Chongo (aka Rabbit) is a 20 year old writer and blogger hailing from Zambia’s tourist capital, Livingstone. He’s an Afro-Culture activist and peace advocate trying to bring the world closer to Africa. More of his works can be found on his blog AFROCABIN.


This is an excerpt from Youth Shades Magazine October 2017 Issue. Click here to get your copy for free. 


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