12 Adulting Skills We Need to Learn

Upon graduating from college, many young people will start living independently and move away from their parents. However, this new sense of independence suddenly proves them clueless about many things.

Many of us thought we would have everything figured out by our 20’s, which leaves us feeling lost on what to do next. 

“Welcome to the Real World.” This phrase is commonly heard after graduation, as if the world we live in before taking our diplomas is not “real.” 

Either way, we blindly jump to the new workplace arena to crawl in the dark and figure things out. Eventually, we realize that many life skills are not directly taught to us in school.

Here are 12 skills I believe every “new” adult and older adults should learn:

1. Budgeting

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Budgeting is one of the essential adulting skills you should learn. Many of us grew up in families where topics about money are avoided and are left to be handled by “adults.” However, when we reach adulthood ourselves, we finally realize that they also don’t know how to handle money.

That is why we need to unlearn things and learn more about the subject by going through various materials, from books to articles, blogs, and vlogs, and talking to people who know how to budget.

I have already written a post regarding budgeting. You may read it here and hope it helps.

2. Cooking

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Like budgeting, cooking is one skill every adult should learn – primarily if you did not learn how to cook growing up. Aside from frying, I only started cooking in 2018 by following recipes on Youtube. And through practice, I think I improved a lot since then.

Another thing about cooking is it saves us some cash compared to dining out or buying cooked food. When I cook, I sometimes compute the total expense for the dish and how long it takes to complete. I found out that it can be as high as 50% savings. Plus, it’s fun to cook, especially if you’re cooking for someone you love.

With so many preservatives and unhealthy food sold in the market, cooking your food assures you of its nutritional values. 

3. Exercising

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When I was still studying, I was underweight. I can’t gain weight even if I tried. I always thought it would always be that way. Unfortunately, my metabolism slowed down. By the time I took the board exam in 2014, I was several kilograms overweight.

That is also one of the reasons why I started exercising. I initially chose running because I thought it was the cheapest sport – now I know that I was certainly wrong about that.

As we started working, we realize that we don’t have much free time – which makes exercising more critical. Re-allocating 10 to 15mins of your social media time to exercise will help you in the long run.

4. Confrontation

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Confrontation has a negative connotation, but hear me out. You can speak your issue/s with another person in a loving, respectful, and friendly way. Confrontation does not mean to fight or to argue. But it can be a way to settle misunderstandings and clear some issues before it goes out of hand. 

I noticed from older people who never learned the skill of confrontation that they ignore the person they have a problem with or deal with them in a passive-aggressive way. 

I know this is difficult to do – especially if you’re an introvert – which makes it more critical. To preserve relationships, you need to collect all the confidence in you and talk things out.

Because if you avoid the person you need to confront long enough, time will come when all the emotions you locked up inside you will burst. Your relationship may not be repaired ever again after that.

5. Asking Questions

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I am a teacher, so I know that most students won’t ask questions even if they want to clarify something. So what I did is to force them to ask questions. During recitation, I call a student at random, and he/she has to ask a classmate or me a question. And that question should not be answerable by yes or no but should be situational or divergent questioning.

I want to teach them confidence in questioning people with authority. Asking questions is an important skill and can be used in our everyday lives.

From asking a stranger for directions to asking a seller for a refund to asking your manager for a raise or promotion, it is only a matter of confidence.

Not all questions are created equal, some are thought-provoking while some are quite obvious, but it does not matter. According to Confucius, “The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”

6. Public Speaking

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Public speaking does not mean speaking in a large venue with hundreds of listeners waiting for you to talk. It can be as small as within your family or your five-person team.

Whatever the number of audiences may be, learning the confidence to talk to in front is essential. I am an ambivert, but I lean towards introversion. But because I was elected president in my organization in college, I had to speak in front of people. That experience contributed to building my confidence.

Learning how to speak in public is never too late – you just need practice. 

7. Writing with Clarity

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We are now living in a world where writing is essential. We are writing more than we might think – through social media, emails, blogs, and other platforms.

But many people seem to forget how to write what they mean, which leads to misunderstanding and disputes. Communication is a two-way street – whichever medium it may be. The tricky part about writing is it does not readily show the emotions of the writer or translate what’s in his head to what’s written in the paper.

So, if you want people to understand what you mean, you need to practice writing clearly and re-learn its basics.

8. Reading with Comprehension

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In 2019, the education sector was mocked when the news announced that the Philippines ranked lowest among 79 countries when it comes to reading comprehension. I don’t know if you noticed, but based on my experience, this is true.

Our schools and teachers can only do so much to remind students to read. However, students seem to no longer care about reading – which is essential in the future. Reading with comprehension is not only applicable for English, but also Filipino.

People – young and old – need to re-learn how to read, not just for the sake of reading but especially for understanding. Read the line, then within the line, finally, beyond the line.

9. Active Listening

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Often, we listen to reply, not to understand. I think that is one of the biggest problems of our generation. We need to be more present when having a conversation. It is an essential skill that can do wonders.

Just like what Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

10. Empathy

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Empathy is more than just feeling pity towards others. It is putting ourselves in other people’s situations. Like what Atticus Finch said, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” To learn empathy, we need to re-evaluate our values first. We need to throw away our selfish desires and look for ways to extend help.

We need to immerse ourselves in uncomfortable places and situations to understand other people more. Volunteering for different causes is a great way to develop empathy. 

11. Teaching

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We are all teachers. We teach different topics to other people every time. Richard Feynman said that one of the best ways to learn a concept is to teach it to others.

Some may be more adept at teaching than others, so you just need to improve this skill. In whatever we do, time will come when we will need to teach others. It may be our friends, family, teammates, colleagues, or mentees, but whoever that student maybe, an opportunity will come when we need to teach.

12. Not Taking Offense Easily

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In a time when we become so thin-skinned and oversensitive to everything, learning not to be easily offended is a critical skill to learn as early as possible.

Some Filipinos are easily offended. The cultural term being “tampo.” A number of families and friendships were damaged because of this. From as simple as not greeting you on your birthday, or forgetting to invite you to a party or passing to buy your merchandise. 

I think being “matampuhin” is a sign of pride and selfishness because we don’t consider the other person’s reason why these things happen. We should always practice giving the benefit of the doubt. 

So, if we can learn how not to be easily offended, our lives will be easier. Not everything is worth our energy. We need to choose our battles carefully.

Final Thought:

Adulting is hard. Much harder if we don’t learn some of these skills. We need to prepare ourselves to be in uncomfortable situations to learn and grow.

There is always room for improvement. Never settle for “ganito na talaga ako e.” Listen to close friends and family’s advice and filter through them to determine what is applicable.

We need to develop a growth mindset.

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