When I was 15, I questioned the benefits of learning binomial theorem and its application to my life. 2 decades later, this question still remains unanswered. Today, I am recognised as an adult legally and expected to be an adult. This “adulting” process has been challenging and while I respect that life cannot be as structured as a classroom, there were definitely some skills I wished school could have been more intentional about. The below are my top 3:
1) How to say NO
This was probably the hardest – my personality and environment was the perfect setup for one to have the perfectionist and “can-do” mentality. Until certain experiences in adulthood taught me that I cannot control everything, I truly thought “NO” was unacceptable. It was selfish, weak and lazy. Thankfully, the wisdom of older humans and their willingness to share taught me that “NO” can be a healthy way of setting boundaries for myself and others. By saying no, I am actually focusing my life and the limited resources I have in the priorities I deem are important.
2) Managing Self
When we are young, we can’t wait to grow up. That way, we can buy the things we want, stay out with friends and earn lots of money. The flip side was not revealed. As grown-ups, we now have to pay our own bills, take responsibility for our relationships and my eureka moment – make sure the toilet is cleaned. While some of the lessons in school might have helped like Home Economics (till today I still have not made a Shepherd’s pie nor sewn a dustbin holder though!), this article lists a majority of the skills I wished school had taught me.
Among the list, managing and growing my finances rank pretty high as nothing can be divorced from money. From paying bills and taxes to buying a property and preparing for retirement of not just myself but also my parents, countless peers have shared our concerns about not having sufficient money to do everything. Investing to grow our wealth is good but how do we even approach it? What I personally learnt about investing was through plenty of heartaches, lost wealth and mistakes, as well as asking the guys in school who were willing to share their tips. Discernment, experience and not getting fearful in the bad times were definitely key to persisting on. That gradually applied to the other areas of self-management too.
3) Staying Alive!
When we were young, we all had to write essays around who we wanted to be when we grow up. Now that we have grown up, challenges and expectations pile up. “Life takes over”. We have to provide for elderly parents, growing children and also take care of ourselves. We grow wiser, but sometimes also a little more disheartened. It becomes easier to just settle for the routine and comfortable life, making do with occasional thoughts of “what if” and yearnings of our dreams. We envy those who dare to take the plunge of following their dream and stretching themselves to find deep fulfilment. Sometimes, we wished we could do the same, but over time, we choose to make do, thinking that there is no way out. Life becomes a zombie living. I wished I learnt in school how to keep hope alive, be more resilient to take the tumbles of life and be creative on how I can pursue my dreams while balancing my responsibilities. That way, I can be confident and fully engaged in life, feeling a-life.
As this article sums it well,
After high school, we’re let loose in the real world to fend for ourselves. And yes, there is tremendous value in having to learn from experience and work your way through challenges as you encounter them. Those of us who aren’t taught these things will probably be just fine. But it really does make an already difficult period of adolescence and young adulthood even tougher. Without general education on these topics, we’re far more likely to get ourselves into trouble financially, socially, politically and even on day-to-day tasks and decisions”
What were some of the topics, knowledge or skills you wished you were taught in school?