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It’s a hard knock life...

How to be an adult

Jamilah
Simpson
Digital Marketing Apprentice

When I was younger, I wished endless times to grow up and become an adult. To fast-forward to the part where I owned the perfect house, had my dream job and could drink coffee past 9pm. Now that I’m halfway there, I sometimes find myself wanting to take those wishes back and go back to being a kid with no worries and no responsibilities. 

Going into full time work straight after my A-levels was definitely a shock to the system. For the first few weeks, I felt like school didn’t fully prepare me on “how to be an adult”. There were no lessons on how to pay bills, how to understand our government system or how to cover my living expenses. Sure, there were numerous valuable lessons, but I’m certain that I speak for most people when I question what the point was of learning how to solve algebra equations (unless you become a maths teacher)?! I mean who even thought to put letters in maths?! 

Throughout my school experience, I had always wondered why we weren’t taught basic life skills. Time would have been better spent learning how to handle money, or even how to cook a decent meal. I’m quite fortunate to still live at home, but it’s those who move out straight after finishing school that I sympathise for. Imagine being thrown in the deep end with no prior experience on how to cope living on your own. I take my hat off to you if you’ve managed perfectly, but I know for sure that I would have no chance if I was in that position. 

Recent research MyTutor found that 87% of Brits believe school failed to prepare them for life as an adult; “While we might have nailed certain academic subjects at school, certain skills needed to navigate adulthood are lacking”. What are some of the skills Brits wished they were taught at school? Here are the top 10:

  1. How to budget money
  2. How to handle money
  3. DIY skills
  4. Mental health awareness
  5. Taxes and living expenses
  6. Cooking and nutrition
  7. How to buy a house
  8. How our political system works
  9. Effective communication
  10. Online safety and data protection

Skills related to financial planning appeared in the top 10 three times.

Only 8% of 18-24 year olds felt they were fully taught all life skills that were needed. These skills would definitely have made a difference leaving school and going into the real world.

Almost one year on from starting work, I can say that I’m 70% confident in adulting. I can just about handle cooking, effective communication (you’ll never see someone answer an email as quick as I can) and data protection. Some things that still need work are definitely on the financial side - bills, taxes and budgeting (that needs a lot of work). I’m also slowly starting to understand how our political system works. Not quite at the stage of writing a 1,000 word essay about Brexit or who should be our next Prime Minister, but I can understand how it all works together. This is all thanks to my team at work (who often discuss things I’d classify as “adult conversations”) but also to WhiteHat. They have many resources all apprentices can access to inform them with more detailed explanations. To give an example, they are currently planning an event in January about financial management (I’ll be there, front row and centre!). They also have a politics event coming up at the end of October called “Why Voting will be the most important thing you do this year”. This will help educate us about why our votes are valuable, and also to help us voice and represent our generation in future politics. 

Nonetheless, going into the “adult world” of working has been beneficial in many ways. I’ve been able to build up on soft skills that are required for a job in Sales. My greatest achievement and “step into adulthood” has been the progression into becoming a comfortable public speaker. I’ve had numerous opportunities to work on my presentation skills, which is a big change from last year when I could barely cope with presenting in front of a classroom of 10 of my peers.

Now that I’m starting to get the hang of things as an adult, I want to make sure students who are going to be leaving school won’t be in the same position as I was. That’s why I am going to be co-hosting workshops on soft skills at my old high school. I am collaborating with a fellow alumni student to educate groups about everything it means to be an adult - ranging from finance, budgeting and public speaking. Our first workshop is in the next couple weeks, and we’ll be starting off with a range of activities based around what it means to be successful. I am going to be presenting my journey into becoming a young worker in the tech industry, and hopefully inspire and show them that only you can make your own success. One of my biggest learnings is “You don’t have to follow everybody else just because that’s what they’re doing. You have to do what’s best for you and what you think will take you in the right direction to success.”  

Explaining how to be an adult is kind of like a rollercoaster - scary at first but so worth it to get that feeling of accomplishment and adrenaline rush. 

Am I doing this life thing right? Who knows.

Hakuna Matata. (Means no worries for the rest of your days).


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