1. How to live on a budget. Unless you are being bank rolled and don’t have a single financial care in the world, you simply have to learn live within your means. Being on a budget means knowing what bills to pay and when, how much you can save, any short-term (and long-term) things you need to save for, etc. It won’t be easy and maybe you won’t be at 100% yet but you must have some semblance of the reality of your finances and how to live with it and/or improve it.
2. How to cook simple meals. Cooking, contrary to popular belief in this part of the world, does not take any superhuman talent. Cooking is mostly about throwing a bunch of things together (in seemingly correct measurements) and going with it. But seriously by age 24, you should be able to spend a whole week cooking all your meals without any complaints. And no, you don’t have to do this every day, but the fact that you can, is important.
3. How to keep your apartment in a somewhat orderly state. Life gets crazy, you don’t have to tell me twice. But eventually you have to start living in a place that you want to come to every day. It might involve staying in more so you can afford things you need to get your place where you want it to be. And it might involve forcing yourself to do the dishes for 20 minutes each day no matter how tired you are. But figure out a plan and stick to it.
4. How to respect people you don’t like (especially when you’re in the same place). There seems to be this notion that has been going around for some time that if you’re “being yourself” and “being honest,” it means not having common courtesy towards people in their presence. This is pure nonsense. Showing everybody human respect is a mild inconvenience we’d all be better off “suffering” through.
5. How to dress appropriately for every event. People will forgive you for outfit mishaps and being slightly underdressed when you’re in your early twenties. But when you start approaching those mid-twenties, you’re expected to know better. You will get looks, you will embarrass your significant other or your friends or colleagues and most importantly yourself if you don’t learn what works and where.
6. How to take care of your body. Here’s the thing – there are very few people in life who are going to be concerned about your physical (and mental) well-being. You always have to keep these things in check. You don’t have to become a tri-athlete or a marathon runner or engage in activities you don’t like just because everyone else is doing them. And you don’t have to reach some “perfect size” you think is going to bring you some sort of happiness. And you certainly don’t have to deprive yourself of the food you enjoy for the rest of your life. But you do take care of the only body you’ll ever have because it’s yours, and it deserves to be cared for. Everything in moderation.
7. How to say no. How to say no to friends who insist on doing things you can’t afford. How to say no to work-related things that prevent you from having a social life. And how to say no to yourself when you know that “no” in the long-term, will serve you best. This need to always “please” is one that some struggle with more than others but knowing that “no” is always available to you, no matter how uncomfortable it may be is one of the most important things you’ll realize at this age.
8. How to ask for a raise, for support, or from anything you need from a workplace (and a boss). Some workplaces are like family, some are not, and depending on the culture going about asking for what you need may be more hellish than others. But you have to do it, no matter how terrifying it is. Always think of this as already being at a “no.” As long as you’re polite and professional, even if you o get a “no,” you would have handled yourself well and would have built the courage necessary for doing it the next time.
9. How to take criticism. And the difference between constructive and destructive criticism. You will be criticized from almost every angle of life you can think of – by people who know and respect you, and by people who have no clue who you are (and what they are talking about). You have to learn which voices to pay attention to and what is good and bad advice or rather what works for you and what doesn’t. And when it comes to this, it worth it to remember in Mike Tyson’s words, “Not everyone who hurts you is your enemy, not everyone who helps you is your friend.”
10. How to ask (and not assume) anything from any relationship. You will drive yourself crazy with assumptions. And because of the way girls especially are socialized, you can assume your way into things and out of things – none of which you were supposed to. But you know what they say about assumptions; we all know what they say about assumptions. Don’t do it. Always ask. Even if you’re afraid of the answer it is still better to ask. Because once you know the answer, you know what to do or at least what not to do. But until then you are just in mental purgatory and that is no place for someone as full of life as you.