Picture: Sacha van Niekerk

Your twenties - they fall somewhere between college graduation, job interviews and backpacking through Europe and are known for being the time to "find oneself". 

They were made for blunders, for discovering passions, for falling in and out of love with who you are until you're finally content, only to wake up one morning with the desire to change it all.

The question, "If you could go back in time and give your 21-year-old self advice, what would it be? " was posed to six individuals who have spent some time on this particular roller coaster ride. Here's what they had to say:

1. Live a little more and don't take yourself so seriously

“At 21 we tend to give ourselves unrealistic expectations and expect things to just happen but in reality it doesn't work like that.” - Kylie Charlize Ross, 26, Designer.

2. You don’t have everything figured out

“I was well aware that it wouldn't be totally smooth sailing but I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. A few months into my 21st year on earth, I discovered that I really didn't know what the hell I was doing. I came to be very disappointed in myself because I was so sure that, as an adult, I should be able to figure things out on my own. I was totally clueless about how to achieve the goals I had previously set for myself. On top of that, I realised that didn't even know who I was anymore which, for the longest time, really worried me. I’ve learnt to embrace the mistakes I’ve made and the many failures I have yet to experience because they are great opportunities for learning and growth. I have learnt The feeling of having no clue what I’m doing will come quite frequently and that's okay. Greatness comes from struggle so it's important to pick yourself up again after a fall, ask for help and look to loved ones for strength in the most difficult times.” -  Mulesa Lumina, 26, Human Rights Lawyer.

3. The friends 21st you’ve attended may not remain your closest friends for life

"At 21 I attended a lot of twenty-firsts. At some, I even made speeches. Six years down the line, I am not in touch with most of those people. At first I resented that they had moved on and we had drifted apart, but now, I understand that friends come and go. It's okay to not be invited to weddings and vacations. What I have learnt is that the universe can provide you with a friend at any moment, if that friend is lifelong, great, and if not, you were only meant to be friends for that time only, and that's okay." - Siwe Toto, 27, Occupational Therapist and Lecturer.

4. The working world isn’t what you thought it would be

“I would tell my 21-year-old self that the working world is a lot more different than anything I'd ever experienced. I would say be ready to encounter unruly people, and to stay out of office politics. I also realised, when beginning work, that there is really not much time to do much else outside work - especially on working days. But you can still hold on to some interests so long as you manage your time properly.” - Kerushun Pillay, 24, Journalist

5. Regardless of what happens, your happiness starts from within

"At 21, I had recently graduated at the top of my class with a BA in Brand Communications from Vega School, and on my 21st birthday, armed with my laptop, camera and a small backpack, I boarded a plane Italy to reconnect with relatives. I had already experienced working in the advertising industry part-time and was hungry for inspiration from the rest of the world. I thought I wanted to launch straight into a freelance creative career when I returned to SA some months later, seeking a flexible and exciting work lifestyle. Little did I know that when I got back I would start working full-time at a major company in the South African fashion industry, only to leave it again to go back into the ad world working for massive household brands, and then return to the clothing industry to work for an established South African designer. I would also be engaged to be married before I turned 22. The most important thing I have learnt about myself between then and now is to stay true to who I am, to be honest about my true feelings, and be open to change.” - Zwelisha Giampetri, 27, Multimedia Designer.

6. Breaking into the working world takes a lot of work

“Starting my career as an artist was a lot of hard work, especially when it came to breaking into the art market and what it takes to be a great artist. It took a lot more work, time and sacrifice than I could have ever imagined. I'm still trying to be a better artist and will forever be. What I do know is the more I learn about myself, my environment and community the more I can offer to society as an artist.” - Claude Chandler, 29, Artist.