I Didn't Learn Proper 'Adulting' Skills Until Later In Life

by Amanda Carew
Originally Published: 
A photograph of a messy room, with a cat walking around and a person's legs hanging from a bed.
Alex Potemkin / Getty

When I first left home, ready to face the world on my own, I thought I was ready. I assumed age was enough to give me the experience I needed to handle any curveball thrown my way. I thought I knew what awaited me out in “the real world.”

But here’s the thing. Some of us weren’t taught the life skills that are needed to “adult” properly. For one reason or another, we left home with little knowledge on how to do life.

This isn’t a post to point fingers or to blame. Maybe our parents were ill-equipped themselves. Maybe tragedy or circumstances caused them to be preoccupied. Maybe we ourselves were too stubborn to listen and learn what we needed to.

It doesn’t matter why we left home without enough information on basic life skills. All that matters is that we did.

But more importantly, what matters most is what we do to overcome our lack of knowledge in the skills we need to succeed in life.

I spent most of my 20s fumbling around, not sure how to do the basics. I didn’t know that it was mandatory to do taxes every year. I had no knowledge of how to buy a house, or a car. Heck, I couldn’t even drive a car. I struggled with basic housekeeping skills, and cooking was definitely a challenge in those early years. And managing finances? Forget it. I mean, what was a budget anyways?

The first step to acquiring those skills we need is discovering that we actually are lacking them. For the first few years after I left home, I don’t think I even noticed how much I didn’t know.

But as the years went by and I kept running into roadblocks and challenges, it became clear to me that I knew very few things about “adulting.” Throw a few kids in the mix and I really discovered I knew nothing.

Here’s the thing: Once we recognize how much we DON’T know, that opens the door to learning what we need to.

Often I hear people say they can’t cook because no one taught them. I don’t believe that we can use that as an excuse anymore. We live in the information age. With just a click of a button we have access to written tutorials, step-by-step videos, podcasts, and endless research on any possible subject we can think of.

In the past 10 years, I have learned how to cook, how to preserve food, how to garden, how to do basic (and I mean, BASIC) sewing, how to buy a car, how to sell and buy a house, and how to do my taxes. Some of that information was from asking questions of those around me, but much of that information was from watching videos online walking me through how to do things step-by-step.

It used to be that we learned all of these skills from our grandparents and parents, but that isn’t true for many of us anymore. While there is a sense of loss that comes with that, I am so thankful we live in an age where we can basically learn anything we want to, as long as we are willing.

For all the negative things technology can bring, it definitely has brought some amazing opportunities into our lives.

We can sit here and blame someone else for the reason we haven’t learned something, but the truth is, we aren’t kids anymore. We have the power to change our future. If you want to learn something or accomplish a goal, you are only going to get there by pushing forward and learning what you need to yourself. Pointing the finger at someone else is not going to help you learn what you missed out on when you were younger.

I have gone from a 20-year old girl who knew very little about the real world to a 34-year old woman who loves to cook, does her own taxes every year, and continues to watch YouTube videos and read online tutorials to learn how to do things. The great thing is, because I have discovered that I can learn basically anything I want to, I never plan on stopping. I imagine at 80 years old I will still be watching online videos to learn how to create, build, or accomplish a goal.

So, what about you? What have you told yourself is too late to learn because you were never taught? It’s time to change that dialogue from “I can’t” to “Watch me do it.”

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