We get it — adulting is hard. When you’re in your twenties, sometimes it can take up all of your emotional and physical energy just to get through the day. The last thing you can do after work is sew a button back on a shirt or bake some dessert for your office party. And while skills like these may seem like something from days gone by, these things are actually pretty darn important.
It doesn’t matter if you still live at home with Mom and Dad, have bought a house of your own, or rent an overpriced apartment in a big city. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, dating around, or married. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you’re fully employed, still in school, or working part time. There are certain definitive things you should know how to do as an adult. It may seem useless to know how to cook and peel a hard-boiled egg or fold a fitted sheet or read a map in the age of smartphones, but without these skills you very well could be up a creek with no paddle.
OK, everyone knows to say “please” and “thank you” at a meal, but it’s also important to know how to use a napkin, what to do with your fork and hands while talking at the table and that you really do need to pass the salt and pepper together. You don’t want to make a major dinner table etiquette mistake, do you?
It’s important to know how to be at peace with yourself. Don’t be afraid of eating alone, going to the movies by yourself or showing up at a party without a date. You’ll gain a new sense of confidence by doing this.
It’s not a fun thing to do, but you can avoid going into major debt by creating a budgeting worksheet. Record your income, fixed monthly expenses (bills, rent, mortgages, loans, etc.), variable expenses (groceries, nights out at the local dive bar) and balance them out. Review your budget on a regular basis.
You don’t want to have to call an expensive tow truck when you’re out in the middle of nowhere on a road trip, do you? Changing a tire is surprisingly easy. But first, you need to know to keep a spare tire, jack, and lug wrench in your trunk.
You don’t want to be left without knowing how to drive each and every type of car. Driving stick gives you a better understanding of your car and can get you out of a sticky situation if someone lends you a car with a manual transmission.
You don’t want to call an electrician every time a fuse blows, call a plumber every time your toilet overflows, or buy a new washing machine every time it goes a little haywire. Learning basic handiness skills can help you save loads of money.
You should know how to approach someone in a friendly manner, have a firm handshake, and how to formally make an acquaintance. Make eye contact, smile, say hi, and say your name.
No, we’re not talking ninja knife skills — though that would be pretty sweet. You should know the five basic vegetable knife cuts: batonnet, brunoise, julienne, macédoine, and paysanne. Knowing how to mince, chop, and chiffonade is also beyond useful.
Don’t rely on Mom or the laundry pickup service. Know how to separate your laundry, wash everything without destroying your clothes, and what items should and should not be dried. While you’re at it, learn a proper folding technique instead of stuffing your clothes into the drawer. And, yes, that means you should know how to fold a fitted sheet.
Communicating well will make a world of difference in your interpersonal relationships. How do you become an expert conversationalist? By listening to the people you’re talking to. Simply put: Care about what others are saying and truly engage with them. You’ll find people will like you more.
It may be easy just to toss a K-Cup into your Keurig, but you should really know how to work a coffee maker and how to make a big batch of brew. For the summertime, it may also be useful to know how to make your own cold brew at home. And stop microwaving your water for tea — know how to bring a kettle to a boil.
You’re going to wind up at engagements where you may not know a soul. So know how to make friends (at least for the evening) with small talk skills. Have topics in mind, listen, and be sure to ask plenty of questions. Another part of small talk is knowing when to bow out of a conversation, so be sure to brush up on your social graces as well.
Knowing how to organize an effective résumé can be the difference between landing a dream job and never even getting a phone call. And after you get that phone call, knowing how to properly prepare for an interview is key. Be sure to research the company, ask questions, and come in to the office with a positive attitude.
Know how to use a corkscrew without breaking the cork or your wrist. If you’re without a corkscrew, having a few different ways to open wine in your mental Rolodex also can’t hurt.
Yes, Google Maps and GPS navigators are wonderful things, but reading a good old-fashioned map is a skill that will come in handy when your phone dies and your GPS is broken. Reading a map also helps you to get to know your surroundings better, so eventually you won’t even need Siri to tell you how to get home from your friend’s house.
You can’t please everyone all the time. Saying “no” to your boss, to your friends, and even to yourself is really important. As simple as it may sound, this life skill can actually be a difficult one to learn.
Send your thanks as soon as you can, roughly within two weeks. Generally, thank you note etiquette is something you should know. These formal cards are still the best way to send your appreciation for a thoughtful gift.
Really, some people don’t know where the napkins, forks, knives, plates, and water glasses go on a table! Knowing how to set a basic dinner table and a formal table for entertaining are key.
Don’t throw out that dress shirt just because it lost a button! Knowing how to patch a hole in a top, put a button back on a coat, or hem a pair of pants can save you tons of money.
Sure, you won’t be making grand speeches every day like you would in public speaking class in college. But knowing how to talk at a business meeting, give a toast, and address people in a crowd will help to build your confidence.
Knowing when it is and is not appropriate to tip a person can be the difference between receiving quality service or offending your server. At a restaurant, 20 percent is the standard tip in the United States, so get your mental math in check instead of whipping out the calculator. A quick tip on tips: Round your bill to the nearest $5, move the decimal point one spot to the left, and double that amount. Voila! You have a 20 percent tip!
Did you know there are different plungers for drains and a toilet? Yeah. There are. Buy a plunger before you think you need one and familiarize yourself with how it works. Trust us: You don’t want to be stuck without this when you need it.
Gift bags are fine and good, but you know what aren’t fine and good? Sloppily wrapped gifts. Know how to at least wrap a simple box with crisp edges. When done correctly, you won’t need more than three pieces of tape — max! And once you’ve mastered these skills, how about working on dropping these negative rules from your life?
More From The Daily Meal: