​Five Things I Know Now I'm 21 By Scarlett Curtis

​No. 1: I don't like clubs and I'm ok with that


A month ago I turned 21, and in my first year free from the suffocating pressures of 'being a teenager', I may have changed more than any other year of my life.

Twenty was the year I moved away from home, then moved back in six months later. 

It was the year I fell in love for the first time, got my first job, ate my first steak and actually cracked how to do my laundry all by myself. 

I could never have predicted the ways in which I've changed as a twenty-year-old or the many other ways in which I've failed to change.


But now I'm 21 I'm not making any of the resolutions I used to every birthday in an effort to be a better version of myself.

No promises to myself or 'wish lists' of things I hope that being 21 will bring me. 

Because it was only when I stopped telling myself that my life needed to 'change', that I actually started to live it. 

And here's what I've learnt so far.

1. I'm totally fine with the fact that I don't like clubs

I hate them. They're too loud. I don't understand the dress code. 


Why do you have to pay to sit down at a table? I don't want to go. 

That's the end of it. 

See you in the morning. 

2. Making friends through work is easier than making friends through 'FUN!'

For a girl with social anxiety so crippling at times that it could bite off all my nails and pull out half my hair (and trust me, it has), making friends the 'conventional' way (meet someone at a bar, bond over a topic that you vaguely have in common, get numbers, be friends) has always seemed frankly unachievable. 

Mood always and forever #tea 💕

A photo posted by Scarlett Curtis (@scarcurtis) on


Over the past year, as I've begun to work more and 'socialise' less, I've found that the friendships I've made under the guise of 'work meetings' have not only been less scary to form, but also much easier to maintain. 

3. A nice dress makes an outfit with minimal effort

Having always been a 'baggy jumper and leggings' kind of teenager, the idea of a 'day-dress' made me feel immediately nervous and a little chilly. 

My newest discovery: throwing on a nice dress in the morning means you literally don't have to think about anything else. 

Let's do this #jazzhands #tonys2016 #hamiltonys

A photo posted by Scarlett Curtis (@scarcurtis) on

It's a shirt AND a skirt, in one item of clothing, you can wear trainers and no one will mind because you've already put in the effort, and you'll feel a little special and potentially a little flirty all day. 

When it comes down to it, a loose, floaty dress is the work appropriate version of a nightie, and that's pretty much all I need to know. 

4. Changing your hair won't make everything better, but it'll be fun

Monumentally, twenty was the year I died my brown hair bright pink. 

After seven hours of bleaching and more than five panicked phone calls to friends and family, I emerged from the hairdressers looking like the back end of a candy floss machine and feeling like my whole life was about to change. 

So apparently it's #nationalpinkday...

A photo posted by Scarlett Curtis (@scarcurtis) on

My whole life didn't change, at least not because of my hair, but swapping the mud coloured locks that reminded me of years of self-hatred with a head of hair that looks like something your mum wouldn't let you eat because it contained too many chemicals has made me more confident. 

It's made me care less about what people think, and it's made me happy on days when my insides felt sad and dark and very much the opposite of pink. 

5. Document it all: Take pictures

Despite being a big year for me, 20 was also often a sad year. 

There were still bad times and dark times and times when I felt like just getting out of bed was a challenge much too big for me to overcome. 

As anyone who's ever struggled with any kind of mental darkness will know, when things get dark, it's hard to remember they were ever light. 

My biggest bit of advice now I'm 21 is: take pictures, write diaries, cover your walls with memories and photos and post-it notes reminding you how good the good days are. 

When life gets bad it's really easy to forget how beautiful it really is, and to trick yourself into thinking that it's never going to get better. 

If I could tell my teenage self anything about what her 20's were going to be like it would be that it actually gets a lot better. 

Not in the way you thought it would, and nowhere near as quickly as you hoped it would, but it's happening, and you're doing it, and that's pretty much all that matters. 

Scarlett Curtis is ELLE's New York Editor

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