What life skills do you need to master by 18, so that life won't hand you your ass?

Before you step off the curb to catch the bus to college or get your own apartment what are the essential practical life skills do you need to have mastered so that life won’t hand you your ass?

Learning when to keep your mouth shut, or when to fight a battle and when not to.

Money management skills is the big one. Many people make it way past 18 without knowing the basics of money and that is a key ingrediant to a disasterous life.

Money management is important.

For the love of all that is good, please know how to do the following things: your own laundry, clean a toilet, cook at least three actual meals that don’t come out of boxes or cans, carry on a conversation that isn’t about yourself, go an entire month without being in a relationship, a car accident, an emergency room or a Jedi costume, and if possible, have a pet that is happy and doesn’t die. If you can pull off all that, you’re on the right track.

It’s a bonus if you’ve read more three books, seen more than ten movies, some of them from other countries, and keep up with what’s going on in the world through at least one news source. If you can begin to grasp that other people really exist and your experience isn’t actually all that great of a teacher taken by itself, you’ll be a winner, baby.

Or both of these at the same time.

How to work for money. I think every 18-year-old should have a job to put down on his or her resume, even if it’s just baby-sitting. The more menial the job, the better. Every 18-year-old should know what it feels like to be at the bottom of the totem pole.

How to drive. I know this isn’t that important in a place like NYC, but just about everywhere else it is a very important skill.

If you live in the city, you should know how to navigate the public transportation system. It always shocks me when I meet city-dwellers who have never taken the bus or the train.

How to keep house. How to do the laundry, the dishes, and operate a vacuum cleaner. How to cook one “good” meal that does not involve a microwave or a box of cereal.

How to have fun cheaply.

Great lists so far.

Knowing how to prevent conception, how to make an appointment, how to speak to other adults in an adult fashion (looking them in the eye, speaking politely, etc.) are all things one should know how to do by age 18.

How to do things (throuroughly, no shortcuts or half-assed jobs) you don’t like, and may have no interest in, because they need to get done. Repeatedly. (As in household chores etc.)

Understand that much can be learned from other people’s mistakes and this is only if you do not say, “That wouldn’t/couldn’t ever happen to me.”

I’ve been bitten on the ass by that dog. :rolleyes:

Don’t spend more than you earn. Credit card companies love to give accounts to college students, knowing they will run up huge bills that will keep them in indentured servitude for life. Also, pay your bills on time.

Learn how to dress appropriately for the occasion. When we get student teachers, often they are wearing wildly wrong clothes for teaching 7th or 8th graders. There are some styles that are for work and some that are for hanging out, and you should know which is which.

How to shut up when you need to

That just because you do things one way does not mean that you shouldnt learn how to do the same thing in as many different ways as possible.

You can learn the best things from the most unexpected people.

How to decide which rules are ok to break, and when.

Everybody has a story, listen to them.

Learn to prioritize: the electric bill is much more important than renting DVDs or ordering out for pizza.

How to write a check.

I think every 18 year old should go on a two-month long trip overseas. There is nothing like travel for a crash course on how to “deal with things”.

How to read and follow directions.

How to recognize that you are not the most important person in the world, and adjust your interactions with others appropriately.

And ditto on the money management and using public transit.

Big ditto on the money management. Specifically, how to pay all bills on time and how to spend no more than you have.

How to buy underwear for yourself.

How to say no and when it needs to be said.

That when your parents said “when you grow up you don’t have to clean your room if you don’t want to” or “when you grow up you can eat all the junk food you want to” those were more figures of speech than actual facts.

How to read, write and speak fluently in your native language.

The importance of showing up. It’s at least 80% of success. Showing up on time is at least another 10%. There is no substitute for reliability. I’d rather hire a dull and uninspired reliable worker than a brilliant spazz who can’t be trusted to be here when I need him/her.

Basic social appropriateness in the following arenas: work, after-work, academia, recreation, nice dinner.

You have two ears and one mouth. That means you should listen twice as much as you talk.

Similarly, timewise, it’s more important to do your homework/pay the bills/take out the trash than it is to level your guy in World of Warcraft.

Money Management

Especially the concept of ‘compound intrest’. That means it pounds your ass and your nuts Or that it kicks two ways if you save money.
You should also know how to read a contract.

Now I agree that you shouldn’t be in a Jedi costume more than once a month, but a Starfleet uniform is a must.

My senior year of high school I participated in the work-study program, which consisted of a half-day of basic classes including one that taught such basic skills as how to write a resume, how to interview well, how to type a memo, etc.; followed by a half-day’s work at a job the school found for you with local companies that held open entry-level positions just for us non-college bound kids.

From that class the most valuable thing I took away was how to interview well. At 17-18, with really no experience and no training, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that you’ll be changing jobs several times within the first few years, so good interview skills are a must.

Other than that, basic things like writing a check, balancing your bank account(s), reading and understanding a contract/lease, and fiscal responsibility are also necessary.

Everything else I think you can afford to learn as you go.

Accept the fact that you don’t know everything. Really, you don’t. When an older person tells you you’re wrong about something, there’s a good chance you are.

That old chestnut about not trusting anyone over 30? Forget it. Where do you think most of this advice is coming from?