Almost exactly a year ago, I left university, ending three years’ of eating takeaway, drinking on weeknights and lie-ins, as well as essentially a lifetime of education. This year, many other young people will being doing the same. It’s an emotional time for many reasons: saying goodbye to friends, moving out of a place you’ve grown to love, having to face up to your job prospects and watching your student discount expire. But another reason why this time can seem so scary is because, when leaving education, it feels like you’re having to give up the eternal struggle to avoid adulthood. Although many people argue you become an adult at 16 or 18, coming out of education seems to remove any elements of childhood you were clinging onto. Your parents stop paying for you, any form of discounts you were once allowed are gone, and you’re expected to get your own career and start your own life. I was terrified when I left university a year ago, but reflecting on the time that has passed, I can safely say it hasn’t been so bad. Luckily, in your twenties, you can sort of getting away with not being a fully fledged adult – and perhaps, none of us will ever be fully fledged adults. However, this time is essential in learning what being an adult means. In my year of kind-of-adulthood, I’ve definitely learnt some important lessons, as well as learnt what lessons I still need to learn. I’ve listed these lessons below, in the hope that, like me, you’re a child struggling in an adult body, they might offer some hope and some guidance throughout this complicated period of life.
1. How to fix your own car
This is one of the first lessons I picked up after buying my first car, which is quite far from ‘top of the range’. In today’s world, you can pretty much get anyone to do anything for a price. This is very true when it comes to cars: for something which is a large part of most of our lives, most of us can barely find the engine in our car. I’ve even met people who can’t put their own petrol in. By learning how to maintain it ourselves, whether that’s how to change your oil or deal with a breakdown, you can save yourself a lot of money, as well as be able to rely on yourself should the worst happen. Plus, if you can avoid a pricey conversation with a patronising mechanic, that’s a bonus.
2. How to handle a hangover
The older we get, the worse drinking gets. Gone are the days of waking up feeling fine after a heavy session, replaced instead by a heightened sense of nausea, tiredness and shame. While some may say this means it’s time to calm down, we must laugh in the face adversity and instead use this as a chance to learn the best cure for your hangover. It will save you a lot of misery by pinning down ultimate ‘cure’, whether it’s a greasy fry up the next day or drinking a pint of water before bed. Of course, knowing how to prevent the hangover and actually doing it are two different things…
3. How to sell yourself
By your twenties, you picture yourself well on the way to your dream career, but the truth is that many of us are still figuring out what the means. This is the age of interviews, switching industries and handing out CVs – so, rather than endeavoring to choose your dream job now, focus instead on learning how to sell yourself properly so that when that job does come around, you’re ready. By this age, you will have picked up many skills and experiences, but being confident in these skills in fundamental. Focus on your strengths and how they serve you, and tie this into your CV and interview style. Know why you’re a good employee like the back of your hand, and show companies why you’re the best for the job with confidence. If you can learn to efficiently play to your strengths, you’ll succeed no matter what the job is.
4. How to save
It’s never too early or late to become a saver, but your twenties are an ideal time to stash away the money. After student living, you finally have disposable income again, but try not to waste that all – you may have limited responsibilities now, but when you have family and bills to worry about, you’ll be grateful for the piggy bank. Commit to putting a chunk of your wages into the bank each month, and watch it build up over time. In the sad world of unattainable house prices and expensive living costs, it’s essential to have savings, and future you will appreciate your hard work now.
5. How to cook
Cooking is a huge skill to boast and is one that will serve your whole life – yet, in a world of takeaway and ready meals, it’s easy not to learn how. By learning how to cook, you can not only help yourself have a healthy and balanced diet, but you can also ensure you never have to settle on Pot Noodle for dinner ever again. Learn now and before you know it, you’ll have your own repertoire of delicious recipes to impress your friends with.
6. How to stay in touch
As we get older, it’s natural that we lose touch with many people we have encountered over our lives. Whether it’s school friends, university flatmates or old colleagues, it’s easy to get swept up in life and forget to touch base every now and then – and then before you know it, you haven’t spoken in years. In my experience, people always regret losing touch: years down the line you might need a friend, and find yourself wondering what your old pals are doing now. Take time now to catch up with them every so often, before it’s too late.
7. How to embrace opportunity
When you’re young, you’re in the best position possible to try new, exciting things – the future is unknown and the possibilities are endless. That’s why it’s so important to embrace opportunity now because it can lead to the best paths. Whether it’s pursuing a hobby or passion, take advantage of chances to learn new skills, or going on crazy adventures, make the most of your youth by exploring and experimenting with opportunities.
8. How to travel
On the back of that last point, your twenties is an ideal time to travel. You have relatively little responsibility, so it’s easy to take off for a short or long holiday, with the whole world ours to explore. Whether you travel with a job or as a passion, try to see all the destinations you want now, and use it to become a more cultured and open person. Plus, you never know what a trip abroad can bring – maybe a holiday could become a new lifestyle?
9. How to communicate well
Communication is always going to be a huge part of life, and it’s never a bad skill to learn. At this age, as we start our careers, it’s important to learn to be charismatic and communicative so we can talk to employees and clients, work in teams, and even lead presentations. Furthermore, it’s ideal to be able to make a good first impression and be able to network with others. By learning now how to communicate in a clear, charismatic way, you’re giving yourself a huge stepping stone in life, and an advantage that will serve you throughout adulthood.
10. How to learn
Of course, the most important thing at any age is to grow, to learn from your mistakes and develop as a person. By our twenties, we’ve spend our lives in education, but that doesn’t mean the learning stops. Our twenties are the time where we will all make mistakes, but it’s also the time we will learn the most. Whether it’s job experience, life lessons or just learning to be a better person, it’s vital we take note of our mistakes and tests now, because they can prepare us for the future more than we might realise.