There's no doubt about it: adulting is hard. When you're first thrown into the deep end of grown-up life, it often seems like it's impossible that you'll ever be as proficient at everyday life as people like your parents or superiors at work. While it's great to have it all figured out by 22, it's also pretty unrealistic — it takes most people years, if not decades, to get all of their ducks in a row when it comes to career, relationships, finances, and the ever-important art of making it out the door without any stains on your clothing. Even if you feel like your life isn't totally pointed in the direction you want it to be, there are a few easy skills you can learn in virtually no time that will make you feel more confident and like an infinitely more competent adult. So what skills should you have before calling yourself a full-fledged adult?
Iron your clothes:
Photo: Jeff Sheldon
They may say that cleanliness is next to godliness, but more realistically, it's the first step toward being a grown-up. Despite the proliferation of wrinkle-free clothing on the market, whether you're trying to impress a date or land that dream job, it's imperative that you know how to iron. Sitcoms may have made it look like it's a major endeavor, but it's really not — just buy an iron, turn it to the right setting for the fabric you're ironing, and don't leave the iron on any one spot for too long.
Apply for a loan: Even if you can't imagine taking on any debt, you might still need a loan at some point or another. Keeping an updated file of your financial documents can make it much easier when you need to buy a car or maybe even take out a mortgage in the future.
Negotiate a raise:
Photo: Benjamin Child
Nice girls don't get the corner office and they don't tend to get the big bucks, either. If you've found a line of work that you want to advance in, it's important to know how to negotiate a raise, and practice makes perfect. Test out your powers of persuasion with your friends or family members first and then bring them to your boss when it's time to boost your paycheck. Don't worry, it will get easier every time you do it.
Cook a signature dish: It's unlikely that your friends will ever expect Iron Chef-worthy cuisine out of you, but you should still have a few culinary tricks up your sleeve for special occasions or when you have company. Whether you turn to the Joy of Cooking or educate yourself by watching The Food Network, it's definitely well worth your time to find a dish you enjoy cooking and perfect it.
Schedule routine checkups: We may not love getting poked and prodded at the doctor's office, but if you want to stay healthy, it's pretty important you're getting evaluated by a professional on a semi-regular basis. Once your parents have handed over the reigns about making your appointments, make sure to book a primary care visit at least once a year, visit with your gynecologist every 12 months (more often if you need birth control, get pregnant, or notice anything concerning), and, even if you're a bit squeamish, try to make an annual visit to the dentist — you'll be thanking him or her when you still have all your teeth at 70.
Fix a flat tire:
If you weren't paying attention in driver's ed, you should still figure out how to change a tire on your own or you never know when you might find yourself stranded. YouTube has tons of tutorials that can help you learn to change your own tire quickly and safely.
Say "I'm sorry":
Photo: Kevin Schmitz
Why is it that forgiveness is so easy in theory but so hard in practice? One of the biggest steps toward becoming a full-fledged adult is learning to say you're sorry and mean it. While we definitely don't advise letting everything slide, it's also important to pick your battles — the petty squabbles you got into as a kid just make you look immature when you're older. Learn to let the little things slide and when you've made a mistake or hurt someone's feelings, don't be too proud to apologize.