10 Things I’d Tell My 21 Year Old Self


21 year old in college The other day, when I called my alma mater’s bookstore (Go SFSU Gators!) about the availability of some tchotchkes I was looking to purchase for a client, I was told that I could come pick them on Sunday, the school’s “Move-In Day.” I remembered what “Move-In Day” was like and politely declined, but I always reminisce about this time of year because I celebrate my “Move-In Day” to San Francisco on August 20.

This year, I am celebrating my 19th anniversary of moving to San Francisco to finish my college degree. I never imagined that I would have stayed in this magical city as I long as I have, but San Francisco has always been my idea of the “big city.” To have moved here and to have developed a life in this city has been a bittersweet dream. 

I always tell people that San Francisco puts its people to work. If you want to have a life here, the city will make you work for it. I’ve never worked harder anywhere in my life, but I don’t regret any of it. San Francisco has been good to me. I’ve enjoyed the life I created here.  Nevertheless, there are a few things I would have loved to advise my bright-eyed 21-year-old self, things that longevity has taught me now.

  1. Learn how to manage your money and manage it wisely.
  2. Spend time with your friends, because you won’t get that time back.    
  3. Take classes that excite you, not just classes for your major.
  4. Travel during your downtime. Take the ferry to Sausalito or a plane to another city.
  5. Work enough, but don’t let work work you. You will have plenty of time to work after you graduate from college.
  6. Drink more water. Dehydration affects how you look and feel.
  7. Keep in touch with your parents and your siblings; they just want to know you’re okay.
  8. Read the “fine print” and ask questions. There are no stupid questions, just ones that go unasked.
  9. Know where to find help (physical, mental, financial, etc.) and seek it if you need to.
  10. Be kind to yourself.  You are your biggest critic and worst critic. 

  My parents always worried that I worked too hard. I rarely saw my relatives and cousins, as I was always working on the weekends. I was always zipping somewhere, even when I had a cold. They were right (Papa and Mama, you were right!), yet I wasn’t going to let a cold or work dissuade me from making my dreams come true. Come a head cold or an earthquake, I was going to make life in San Francisco work! And now, as I reflect on those ten things I would have loved to tell myself, I realize it would have been nice to slow down a little bit and enjoy the college ride. Like most things, being 21 and in college was fleeting.  Those were good times.

What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self?


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Jeanne is a married, full-time working mom with an MBA in Marketing from Golden Gate University and BA in Communications from San Francisco State University. She is an Associate Director of Sales for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and loves that her career enables her to promote the city she loves. Jeanne and her husband Daniel live in San Francisco with their two daughters, Ilse and Alice. When Jeanne is not working, writing, or volunteering at Ilse's school, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and cooking from her collection of cookbooks (70 and growing) while sipping Hudson Bay Bourbon. Follow her adventures on Instagram.


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