As a child I watched them doing it. Adults had all the answers. They knew all the rules. I relied on them for everything – my very survival depended on them. My life was in their hands.
I looked up to parents, grandparents, teachers. I respected neighbours and figures of authority. Adults were amazing. Because of them, I didn’t have a care in the world. Protected from all the things that didn’t concern me, I had no idea of what was to come.
Looking back I’m not sure what I really expected. Was there going to be a gentle transition to adulthood? Or was a kind adult with all the answers, the gatekeeper of this secret knowledge, going to put me through a robust training programme, hand me a ring-binder of guidance notes and prepare me for my future, my destiny?
That’s the thing, though, isn’t it. One minute you are young and carefree. You think you know it all and life is a breeze. Then all of a sudden you take this enormous quantum leap into a whole new world and to be honest, it’s a bit of a bloody shock!
There I was, a teenager, in love with life, had a car, a job and a fella. With no warning I suddenly found myself in an office in a high street bank signing for a mortgage and life insurance, wondering how the fuck I was going to pay for this new life that was waiting for a signature from a ball point pen. That’s what it came down to … me and that pen.
My signature meant I was a real grown-up! I was now responsible for some serious shit. And I was insured! What the actual fuck. Insurance was for my Sony Walkman and my car, not for flesh and bones and bricks and mortar.
And that’s when it happened. That’s when I realised that I was now an adult.
As a child you believe in the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas. When the family dog wasn’t around anymore, you were gently told it was playing in the clouds with Grandma and you accepted that. As a child you have no concept of what is to come, but at some point, God willing, every child will grow up and need a whole new set of lifeskills.
Looking back, an unexpected benefit of growing up in the 1970s was watching and learning from my parent’s hardship. I realised from a young age that money was important and needed to be treated with respect, not wasted and frittered on non-essentials.
Back then ‘childcare’ was not like it is now. For me it was a shoelace around my neck with a back door key on it so I could let myself in when I got home from school. My parents and grandmother taught me to prepare fresh produce, to plan and cook cheap and healthy meals and help around the house. When I got home I was expected to get the veg ready so Mum or Dad could get the evening meal on the go when they got home.
I never realised, but at the time it was because my parents were scratching around for money, often working 2 jobs and weekends to make ends meet. Looking back, it meant I was lucky. I could move into my own home (once I’d got over the shock of being totally responsible for myself) with pretty much all of the skills I needed to survive.
Even with my basics, it was a bit of a shock to suddenly be in charge of everything. And that’s the thing. I had some basic life skills and even I was a bit taken aback by my leap into adulthood. Most people in my life, I’ve realised, are just like me. Winging it. Making ‘best guess’ decisions as they grapple with adulting.
All those people I looked up to? They were making up those rules as they went along, learning from experience and other people’s mistakes. Being an adult isn’t just knowing how to make Yorkshire Puddings and fold a fitted sheet. There are so many things we need to know how to do. So here at So Just Be, we have put together some of the key skills we think you should nail as an adult. How many have you mastered?
Living at home, the adults in our lives did their best to get a balanced diet into us. They also tried to keep us away from the booze and the fags. But as adults, we are the ones in control. We choose the food that goes into our mouth and have to take total responsibility for our own health and wellbeing.
Just think, as an adult you can have chocolate for breakfast, takeaways whenever you like and laugh in the face of scurvy. Only, you can’t.
There is no point trying to produce a single, perfect meal that can give us all the nutrients we need. This takes planning and is all about balance. We need to make sure we can cancel out the high calorie and high fat dinner we had last night with a low fat and nutritious meal or two today.
Carbs and protein are not just something that compliment our gym or exercise routine. We might need to visit aisles in the supermarket that were alien to us pre-adulthood – we are now the adult that ensures we eat our 5-a-day.
Health isn’t just what we eat. We also need to look after our bodies by staying hydrated, sleeping well and looking after our mental health. If you want some tips on how to take care of your body and your mind, we have written some great blogs such as You Are What You Eat: Smart self-care through food and Small Changes, Big Results – Health Hacks for a Busy Life.
Before we were adulting, our time management was completely taken care of for us. We were woken up in the morning and had set bed times. We had school timetables. Our parents told us what time we had to be home.
As adults we have to manage our own time and that of those around us. With so many priorities to juggle, it’s no wonder we end up feeling frazzled. In Master Your Life Admin – Top Tips to Get Organised we looked at some great tips that will help you nail adulting and become more organised. If you feel like you have a never-ending to-do list, try our blog How To Get More Done in a Day – Top Time Management Tips.
As kids, we were warned to stay away from the trouble makers by our parents and encouraged to choose our friends wisely. We would be gently scolded by the adults around us if we forgot our manners, but otherwise we didn’t really need to work on our people skills.
As we adult, people skills become more complicated. Fellow adults will read too much into what you say or do (or don’t do). Conversations can become minefields and small talk can be difficult. The care-free, witty conversations we had as kids can be littered with sarcasm and bitterness if we are talking to a fellow adult who is not in a good place.
With nobody picking us up if we forget our manners, calls not being returned and technology slowly killing the art of conversation, it’s important we keep on top of our people skills. As a child, I was firmly in the ‘seen but not heard’ camp, often terrified to speak to adults and therefore had limited conversational skills. It can be hard to learn social skills if you and those you lived with struggled themselves, but there are some useful tips here in this article.
I know so many adults who are incredibly clever, but are completely and utterly useless when it comes to doing anything with their hands. One friend has damaged countless cars because he is not mechanically sympathetic and never lifts his car bonnet between services to perform basic checks on fluids. A neighbour of mine will physically run with a lawnmower and hack at their grass, unable to grasp the concept of simply walking up and down the lawn.
Youngsters these days are a whiz with gadgets, but are they learning valuable life skills that will prepare them for living away from their parents? As adults we need to know how to mend things and fight against the current throw-away culture. We need to have basic sewing skills so we can repair a small hole or replace a button.
Our homes will need decorating. Are we capable of wiring a plug? Do we even own a toolkit containing the mere basics such as screwdrivers, spanners and a hammer? If you need to call a plumber each time you need to unblock a sink or a carpenter because a door has started to stick, life is going to get pretty expensive.
What about how to make a bed properly, with hospital corners not fitted sheets? Cleaning the oven or fridge freezer? If you are nailing adulting, you will have torches ready for a power-cut, a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, know the location of your stop cock and know what all the switches do on your fuse board. If not, this is an area you might want to address.
With the bank of Mum and Dad keeping us going and a weekend job replacing the pocket money, the serious money management is left in the dark when we are young.
For some of us, independence and financial freedom means without care, we can quickly end up in debt, as we have no concept of budgeting. Savings, planning ahead and things like pensions are for old people, right? We don’t need to think about those things when we are young.
Growing up, if my parents couldn’t afford something, then we didn’t have it. Simple. Loans and credit cards were extremely hard to come by, which meant we had to live within our means. Sadly now, especially with a ‘I want it now’ culture, it’s all to easy to take up the nil-deposit offers or the interest-free repayments.
Without realising it, it’s easy to end up paying for something long after it no longer appeals or has stopped functioning altogether. If you struggle with finances and want to be more responsible with your hard-earned cash, have a read of How to Take Control of Your Financial Health for some great financial health tips.
If you are a retired Brownie or Boy Scout, you may have earned your First Aid badge and maybe even still carry a plaster in your pocket for emergencies. But how many of us really know how to administer basic first aid?
Not everything can be fixed with a plaster and a Murray Mint, so it’s important to know some basic skills to help with emergencies at home. From 5 basic skills everyone should know to key skills such as dealing with burns or a bump on the head, you owe it to yourself to brush up on some first aid skills.
Asking for Help
Young or old, we will always need to rely on each other for help. Sadly, as adults, we often seem to be reluctant to get the help we need. There is no shame in asking for help in life or at work.
At So Just Be we talk about self-care. Generally adults are praised for self-reliance and society congratulates those that proactively seek self-help, but when it comes to asking for help, we are either too self-conscious or consumed with self-doubt to do anything about it.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, yet the very thought of it eats away at our confidence until we are so anxious about it, we become even more emotionally detached and withdraw completely.
Never apologise when asking for help. This only serves to make you feel like you are doing something wrong. Usually, the person you asked for help is someone you see as capable of doing the very thing you are struggling with. This great blog explains 7 clear steps to follow – like they say, asking for help is natural, so why struggle?
We will confess that while we are both in our 40s, we do still feel we are winging it as we continue to ‘adult’ our way through life. Quite often, our inner child is still there, daring us to poke out our tongue at rules and responsibilities. Maybe successful adulting is all about balance, trial and error? Or maybe adulting is a way of life that we continue to learn through our life phases.
The transition doesn’t stop when you reach 18 or 21. As we grow older, our adulting role changes. We become parents, aunties, uncles, grandparents, and each of those roles requires it’s own skillsets. And if we are making up the rules as we go along, I’m sure nobody will mind if we break the odd one as we go, too.