A lot of people spend so much time worrying about classes, credits, grades and parties that they don’t realize some important life lessons during their school years. Here are 10 things that you should know but were probably not taught in school:
1. Time flies when you’re having fun … and even when you’re not. Kids do not have a good concept of time. “Five more minutes” can seem like an eternity when they are waiting for something you promised, but so can the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Weekends and vacations seem to be over quicker than the workweek, but somewhere along the line you hit a point in your life that months and even years pass by in a blur. Every now and then, step back and enjoy what is going on around you. It will be over before you know it.
2. The ability to get your point across is more important than you think. You don’t have to be the combination of a master public speaker and a New York Times-caliber journalist, but if you can’t explain things out loud and in writing, you’re going to have problems at work.
3. How to get along with people you don’t like. In high school classrooms and college dorms, it’s pretty easy to avoid people that you don’t like being around. You simply don’t talk to them. It’s not that simple in the real world. You’re going to have bosses, colleagues, and even neighbors that you just don’t care for. You don’t need to become best buds, but you need to swallow your pride and bite your tongue. Oh, and keep your complaints about that “special someone” to a minimum. You don’t need to get into a “He said, she said” ordeal at work.
4. How to put on a happy face, even when you’re not happy. Have you ever sat down for a celebratory birthday dinner at your favorite restaurant only to have a scowling waitress who was snippy and rude? Not fun. It’s almost guaranteed that there will be days that the last thing on Earth you want to do is go to work, but you have to.
5. Brushing your teeth does more than prevent bad breath. Brushing your teeth each night does more than provide you with minty fresh breath before bed. It helps remove food remnants and bacteria from your mouth. It’s tempting to crawl into bed and skip the toothbrush when you’re incredibly tired, but you could actually get sick from the habit. Studies have also found a link between brushing and heart disease.
6. How to manage time wisely. Grade school and even high school teachers tend to remind students of important due dates, and young adults going off to college are usually told that most professors aren’t so kind. Even so, most people are never “taught” how to budget their time and ensure everything gets done, and most never bother to figure it out on their own. Winging it will only last so long.
7. How to balance a check book and understand financial statements. Even though most young adults have checking accounts and debit cards along with at least one credit card, many have no clue how to reconcile their checking account each month or understand how much interest they’re being charged on credit card purchases and why. It’s just about impossible to plan for your future if you can’t even calculate how much money you have each month after paying your bills.
8. Shyness can be a detriment. It’s possible to be successful student even if you’re painfully shy, but being introverted generally goes along with extreme self-consciousness and negative thoughts. If you’re so preoccupied with yourself—worrying what others think of your work, your ideas, you in general—you could miss out on advancement opportunities at work.
9. Impulse buys can haunt you for years to come. Most college grads do not plan on living in their first apartment (or in Mom and Dad’s basement) for the next ten years. If you load your place with stuff that you really don’t need, you might enjoy it for awhile, but then you have to figure out what to do with it. Buying things can also put a big dent in your pocket, and if you pay with credit cards, you could be paying interest for years to come. When you’re out shopping and see something that you have to have right now, stop and take a deep breath. Think things through for a few days and go back to the store if you decide you really do need it.
10. Sometimes, “average” or “okay” is good enough. Absolute perfection is an impractical goal in most cases. This doesn’t exactly mean that you should go through the motions without giving something your best shot, but know when to say when. Sometimes, simply getting something done is better than wasting twice as long trying to get it “just right.”
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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