I am 25 now. I don’t think about the past or regret things much these days. But sometimes I wish that I had known some of the things I have learned over the last few years a bit earlier. That perhaps there had been a self-improvement class in school. And in some ways there probably was.
Because, some of the things in this blog post, a teacher probably spoke about in a class. But I forgot about them or didn’t pay attention. Some of it would probably not have stuck in my mind anyway. Or just been too far outside my reality at the time for me to accept and use.
But I still think that taking a few hours from all those German language classes that no one ever enjoyed and use them for some personal development classes would have been a good idea.
I’d honestly love to go back to my old school and speak to kids about this. Perhaps for just an hour a week in secondary school. It would probably be useful for many students and, on a larger scale quite helpful for society in general.
So here are some things I wish they had taught me in school (or I just would like to have known about a little bit earlier).
Self-care and mental health are super important
The importance of self-care and just mental health in general. There were many times in my school life where I wish this had been spoken about more, especially when I was bullied. In the UK we don’t have health classes as such and I think it’s something that should be looked into.
Especially with the rise in teens suffering from mental health issues. Things like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. These things are increasingly prevalent and a lot of high schoolers could really benefit from learning about them, even if it’s just the basic “This is what’s happening chemically in your brain, and if you’re experiencing it, you’re not the only one.”
How the heck buying a house (and car) works
I experienced this last year when I bought my first house, it was tough and despite James already having done it once, it was still a huge learning curve. I did so much research but it’s incredibly complicated, it would be great if schools offered some basic knowledge of the process.
Luckily we had parents to lean on for advice but not everyone has the luxury of doing this, and a lot of the time you’re relying on the internet or your solicitors.
“What the hell is a mortgage? How on earth do I get one? And why do I have to tax a stamp?”
Buying or leasing a car is an ordeal as well. First off you have to decide which is best for you in your given situation, you could be using it to go to and from town, or travelling 100 miles a day. Then it’s a process.
Car salesmen are ruthless as far as price, negotiation tactics, and strategic ways of talking to people to screw them over. Not to mention once you have the car there’s certain tips and tricks you need to know to properly maintain it, find good car insurance, and manage it’s day to day life.
Many teens, (like I did) leave school completely clueless.
How to budget and what to budget for
I wish I had been taught at school about budgeting and handling your money. Until you get a full-time job and move out from your parents’ house, you don’t really know much about deposits, rent, energy bills, food shopping, etc.
When I first started working I would just spend my money on myself, without looking to the future. I remember living with my first boyfriend and being completely nieve with money, thinking I could just spend away on whatever. It turns out that getting into debt and ruining your credit score is quite easy when you don’t have a clue!
How to prepare yourself for something as simple as a power cut
James will laugh at me for this one as he’s literally prepared for anything…including the end of the world.
One thing I never learnt was how to prepare beyond just keeping candles and batteries on hand; how to keep everything in your fridge/freezer from going bad, and how to know when it has; how to entertain yourself until the power comes on; how to help a more fragile neighbor (elderly or disabled) during a power outage, and that we all should.
It’s things like this that you may think you’ll never face in your adult life but you just never know, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
What credit is, and how to use it responsibly
I’ve had such a bad ride with things like credit in the past, I got myself into debt quite young and honestly never thought I’d see the end of it. It ruined my credit score, which in turn, meant I couldn’t get a car on finance, struggled with getting a mortgage etc. It shocked me how easy it was for it to plummet.
Thankfully I learnt the hard way, I’m now out of debt, minus a bit on a credit card to actually build my credit score back up, and manage my money more responsibly. But I think if I’d learned about this in high school, I’d never have been in that situation in the first place.
How interest is calculated, what card to get, what a good interest rate is, how your credit score is affected, how minimums are calculated, and where credit card points and rewards come from are some of the many things to be learned.
People must learn to build good credit for themselves. It’s an important tool in life’s toolbox to have if they intend to buy a car and house.
What your options are if you don’t want to go to uni
If uni isn’t the right path for you, what other options are there?
I was in sixth form at school and all they focused on was sending their pupils off to universities. I ended up having to spend time with a student counsellor to help me decide what I wanted to do with my life.
It’s quite demoralising when a school isn’t prepared to help you look at other options such as apprenticeships and going to a workplace where they’ll put you through relevant qualifications.
Honestly, if I’d have gone to uni, I would have studied dance…it would have gotten me nowhere and I certainly wouldn’t be blogging or working in marketing.
How to cope with failure and rejection
There’s a misconception that failure means you’ve lost the game in life. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
People finish secondary school thinking they can conquer the world. They have their first set of failures and they hit a wall. When people realise that failure is actually part of success, they have breakthroughs.
There’s an interview with Will Smith I saw recently where he talks about how “fear kills creativity.” I agree wholeheartedly. You have to be fearless and not afraid to take risks. There’s tremendous truth to this. And not enough strategies, skills, and programs are implemented in our schools to teach the next generation about failure being a given, how to react when it comes, and how to build on our failures.
“You have to fail early, you have to fail often, and you have to fail forward” – Will Smith
I hope this wasn’t too long winded haha and trust me I could go on. Every day there are new life skills and lessons I’d learnt a lot earlier on.