13 Essential Life Lessons You Will Never Learn in School

BERLIN - AUGUST 23: Children walk down the way on the first school day on August 23, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. Many German school districts, including those in Berlin, are reducing the school times pan from 13 to 12 years as part of a nationwide set of primary and secondary school reforms.. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Source: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images News/Getty Images

School teaches us a great many things: the hypotenuse theorem, the history (albeit biased, and not even close to 100% accurate) of the world, how to use semicolons correctly (except that we'll never actually remember how to do so; sorry, teachers), and why managing your time wisely is actually one of the most important skills you could ever learn (but seriously, though). Our education is obviously important, and we are so lucky to even have one. But, despite the best efforts of our teachers and the insistence of our parents, going to school doesn’t teach us everything we need to know. There are endless things which, despite being undeniably valuable, are impossible to learn within the four walls of a classroom.

In fact, school (both high school and college), doesn’t really teach us the basics of life. You might argue that it isn’t an educational institution’s job to mentor you and prepare you for the real world, and that’s probably true. In fact, it’s maybe best that you learn certain aspects of adulthood on your own. Expect to experience injustice, cruelty, sorrow, jealousy, anger, and mistakes that you will make because you are just a budding human adult. And I can lie and say that no one expects you to be perfect, but that fact is, they do. Your employer will expect Grade A excellence from you. Your family mighty judge you if you get fired. If you’re not the dream girl or guy for the person you’re dating, they possess no obligation to stay with you. The world owes you absolutely nothing. 

Fun, right? It's not all so bleak. But it is all necessary for you to be aware of.

Here are 13 things to expect from your adult life that probably weren’t covered in the SATs. 

1. Being popular does actually help you out in life 

This doesn't at all mean that you aren't just as capable of achieving success if you weren't prom queen but there is no denying that popularity is frequently a product of other social skills that will serve someone well in the adult world. Maybe your parents told you that the popular kids in high school will end up flipping burgers, but most likely that’s not the case (unless it is the case, then HAHA.) Popular kids in high-school are popular because they are people-persons. They know how to work it, socially. In general, yes, it does help you succeed if you are peppy, outgoing, and lovable (even if it’s all disingenuous, you faker you.) Why? Because nepotism in the workplace exists. Bosses will choose other employees over you if they like their personality more. Cruel world is cruel. 

2. Don’t burn your bridges 

Career-wise, it’s always smart to keep in contact with everyone you have worked for and with. You never know when that individual will help you out, and if you’ve belittled them, or treated them like crap in the past, don’t expect them to do anything for you. However, some of your bridges just aren’t worth keeping. And if that’s the case, may the bridges you burn light your way. 

3. Almost everything is political 

Everyone is going to have their own agenda. Maybe you were fired because your boss owed someone a favor. Or maybe your co-worker was promoted instead of you because your manager just likes him or her better than you. There are literally no rules to prevent this from happening. Assume that everyone has ulterior motives.   

4. Hard work does not always lead to success 

When we’re kids, we’re taught that trying our best is really all that matters. But actually, when we try our best and show positive results that yield monetary value, that’s what really matters. People don’t care that you’re trying your best. They don’t. You could have sold your first-born and developed carpal tunnel — your sacrifices will be for naught if the product of your work doesn’t bring in monetary gain. Capitalism, bb.  

5. You don’t have to figure everything out right away – But sooner is better 

In college, everyone was all, “Don’t worry, you’ll have time to figure things out! Just do your thing and it will all come together!” This, I'm sorry to tell you, is total bullshit. It’s true that you’re not expected to write a book or become a lawyer your first year out of school. But it’s not NOT detrimental to your career if you decide to believe the socially acceptable idea that it's okay to perpetually not have your shit together. People who are really, really successful mostly got a head start. They studied their asses off in school, or they figured out what they loved and did their best to excel in it, in any shape or form. All the successful writers I personally know started blogging in high school or college, and submitting their work before age 20. Time is not on your side. 

6. Mean Girl culture doesn’t just stop at high school 

Mean Girls are everywhere. Women will judge you at Target if you haven’t washed your hair. Moms at preschool will ostracize you if they don’t like you. Your neighbors will have a party and invite everyone except you. Co-workers will purposely go get lunch without you. Human nature compels us to be assholes. It must be some kind of engrained survival thing, because no matter how many times parents teach their children to be nice and respectful, we will always, always, always have to deal with someone’s unnecessary cruelty. 

7. Always have money in your savings account 

Like, a significant amount of money. Not just $200. Because cars break down and they’re stupidly expensive to repair. Because one trip to the emergency room can run up to a few thousand dollars even with health insurance. 

8. There’s probably a dupe for that NARS lipstick 

We all know that paying $26 for a tube of lipstick is cray. The bottom line: it’s your prerogative to buy whatever you want, and I’ve totally succumbed to pretty makeup because I love it and it makes me happy — but sometimes, if there’s a better deal, it might be worth checking out. And that goes for everything. 

9. Someone will always be better than you at something 

And that someone will drive you insane will jealousy. I read articles every single day that I feel are so superior to my own writing, it makes me want to cry into my laptop. Except I don’t because I would probably electrocute myself. And plus, I could be spending that time bettering myself and my craft. 

10. There is no genuine way to make yourself more lovable 

Dating and relationship tips are for the most part, useless. Every man and woman has different needs, wants, and expectations out of a relationship. Don’t ever think changing things about yourself will prove a goddamn thing. 

11. If you stop reading, you’ll never be knowledgeable 

It’s scary how many people in the US are illiterate. And by illiterate, I mean people who technically know how to read, but never actually do, rendering them pretty useless when it comes to reading comprehension skills. And I’m not talking about second-language learners. I’m talking about American-born citizens who have received a college education, yet destroy their taxes because they can’t comprehend the written directions. When I asked my 100-level composition class what their favorite book is, all 25 students laughed, as though I told a joke. If you stop reading after college, you are dooming yourself to an ignorant life. Keep up with current events. Read literature. Write daily, even if it’s just an e-mail to your dad. 

12. Alone time will become precious and valuable 

What we once deemed as “loneliness” actually transforms into coveted, much-needed “me time”. I imagine this necessity becomes way more real when you’re a parent, but even when you’re a working adult, moments alone are incomparably valuable. 

13. You will constantly be screwed over 

Not to sound like Ron Swanson, but the government will always find ways to extort money from you. Cops will pull you over even if you were only going two miles over the speed limit and give you a $300 ticket. Your health insurance will find a way to bill you a few thousand more dollars than they need to. People will try to steal your credit card information. People will not pay you back. Just know this, and be prepared for it. That pretty much goes for everything.

Images: Getty Images; Giphy(5)

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