1) How To Live (Respectfully) With Other People
The most important skill I’ve begun to learn is picking up after myself. Leaving messes is something I have done consciously and unconsciously for most of my life.
My family has employed a full time maid for as long as I can remember. My laundry was always clean and folded, my bed was always made, the dishes were always sparkling and dry, and the trash can never got too full or too stinky. All without me doing a thing! While it was definitely nice to have something as convenient as constantly having clean clothes and a neat bed, when I moved out of my parents’ house it was a huge wake up call, and honestly very embarrassing. I was completely clueless on how to keep a house, and in turn, myself, clean! I have since learned how to mop, dust, wash windows, and take a glance back every once in a while to make sure I’m not leaving a trail.
But it’s not only about cleaning up after myself. When living in such close quarters, especially with people that aren’t necessarily my family, paying attention to my actions has become vital in getting along with everyone, particularly since I share a room now. It’s the little things that matter, like flushing the toilet, sponging the water off the bathroom counter, turning out the lights, not coming in too late, and not hitting the snooze button on my alarm so it goes off again five minutes later. It’s having a respectful tone with everyone, being patient if someone washes the dishes slower than I would like, and not taking so much food at meals that there’s not enough for others.
It’s incredible how much I’ve changed just from heightening my awareness to the needs of others around me! My behavior was very selfish before and got me nowhere with the people around me. I wish I had been told that kindness and tolerance towards others is necessary to have healthy and fun interactions with people. I also wish I would have had daily chores, or anything to keep me conscious about my actions and consequences.
2) How To Handle Finances
This seems incredibly obvious, but I just filled out my first check ever, at the age of nineteen. It was absolutely terrifying for me! I’ve never had to think about how much money is going where, and if there will be enough left to pay for my phone bill and auto insurance. I’ve never had to ask myself how many hours I need to work this week to make enough money to cover rent. The considerations go on and on! Up until recently, I swiped a card or withdrew cash from an ATM, and my parents dealt with the bills.
But now I am on my own, and there’s nothing scarier for me than dealing with this new adult life, especially when I didn’t even know something as simple as writing a check, setting up a bank account, and keeping records of what I’m spending and earning. That’s why keeping my own Excel spreadsheet of income and expenses are important for me.
Because I now support myself financially, I find myself panicking at the end of the month when I have to face my bills. What I’ve found is that the end of the month tallying is far less frightening when I can see in front of me how much money is entering and leaving my pocket. Being knowledgeable about my financial situation is what keeps me calm, conscious, and able to make decisions.
3) How To Buy A Used Car
One of the things I was the most nervous about was asking the owner questions. Wouldn’t I sound stupid pretending to know things about cars? What do I even ask? I just recently bought a little white truck, which I love with all of my heart. I learned and realized a lot from the experience, like a car is a big investment, and is of incredible convenience and importance in anyone’s life. I knew I was going to be spending almost every day with this vehicle for many years, so I wanted to make sure I knew its characteristics inside and out. I realized that not asking for as much information as possible would be like marrying a person that I’ve never been on a date with before.
Luckily I was given great advice and I had the truck checked out at a repair shop before I made an offer. I found out that some work was needed on the brakes and a belt needed to be tightened. Although I had test driven the truck and asked the owners many questions, they didn’t know that a thousand dollar brake job was needed. If I had never taken it to a shop, I wouldn’t have known about the repairs needed and would’ve paid more than the car was worth.
Now to the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve done since leaving home: giving the owner of the little white truck an offer! My thoughts went something like this: give them an offer? Negotiate with them? They’re so much older than me! What do I do if they counter offer?
I was in an absolute panic! I had never taken care of any kind of business transaction before, so I came to believe that I couldn’t possibly begin to understand how to negotiate a price or set up an appointment at a repair shop, simply because I never had a chance with such a sheltered upbringing. The most important thing I took away from the experience of buying my first truck is that I am an intelligent human being and am capable of thinking logically through any situation!
4) How To Prepare Food
My mother or my stepmother cooked my meals throughout my life. I didn’t often help or get involved; I just served myself and didn’t ask many questions. I first began paying more attention to what I was putting in my body at the age of fourteen when I became vegetarian, and this was also the first thing I did to break away from my parents’ eating habits and preferences. In the beginning there was some definite negativity towards the change. (My mom was convinced I had an eating disorder because I didn’t want to eat her beef stroganoff.)
It wasn’t until recently, when I left home at eighteen years old, that I really became aware of how important it is to pick very carefully what I put in and on my body. The people I live with now are all active practitioners of Ayurveda, which is a way of eating and of being in the world that promotes consciousness and perfect health. Finally I realized how important it is that I make the choice of what I eat and drink, and not just blindly accept whatever is put in front of me. Choosing to delve into the studies and practices of Ayurveda has helped me to gain an independence and confidence in myself that I have never known before.
One of the things that helped me come to this realization is helping to cut the vegetables that go into each meal. It’s important they’re cut into bite-sized pieces and are generally of the same size so it all cooks a similar amount, and I’m also often reminded to think loving, positive thoughts while preparing a meal. It brings awareness to what I’m doing and thinking and also increases the life force in the food itself.
When I wasn’t paying attention to what I was consuming, I was overeating, eating at irregular times, eating over emotions, and eating food that wasn’t beneficial to my health, like chips and pie. But when I made my own decision about what was good for me and what I liked to eat, I made the first step towards adulthood and living my own life.
When I think back, I come up with so many things that would have helped me make a connection with my food, like visiting local farms and growing a garden. I wish I had been encouraged to help with the preparation of the meals and with the cooking itself! One of the things I enjoy about my life now, and which I think would have been helpful years ago, is talking about where the ingredients came from and what spices were used in the meal. Any little connection that is made is a big help for promoting independent thinking, which is why when I was younger it would have been nice to have nights where I cooked dinner or where my siblings and I collaborated for the meal.
5) How To Believe In Myself
The previous four tips are all basic and necessary parts of a functioning adult life, but I can’t even count the number of people I know between the ages of seventeen and twenty-six who don’t know, or have never done, any of the aforementioned activities. When I look back, I wish I had had more responsibilities growing up. I didn’t, however, which took away chances I would have had to make my own decisions and face my own consequences.
When I moved out it was like being clubbed in the head with a whole lot of information and pressures at once. Easing these bits of life in earlier would have been a huge help to me! Because I had never done anything for myself or had to work for something I wanted, I was completely disempowered, which has instilled a lot of fear of inadequacy in me which I am working through daily.
I like to remind myself that, yes, I am young, but I am also capable of managing my money efficiently, handling a business deal, and cleaning up my life in all ways. I wish I had known how awesome I am, how quickly I can learn and adapt to a new place, with new rules and unfamiliar people. I wish I had known I could figure out my own schedule and my own spending budget. I would have been out on my own living my adventure much sooner.
It’s nice to now know that I can make my life as happy and fulfilling as I want it to be, without my parents paying for all of my expenses and taking care of the sometimes inconvenient necessities, like cleaning up after myself and waiting at the shop while my truck is being repaired. To remind myself that I can have a great life without my parents’ financial support, I say to myself daily: I am a powerful and creative human being, highly capable of anything I want to accomplish and become!
About The Author
Katie Lewin is 19 years old and recently moved to Hawaii to study with her Aunt who is an Ayurvedic counselor and Yoga Teacher. Katie lived a very pampered, sheltered life, and then all of a sudden had to work, buy her own vehicle, pay bills, get along with roommates, and basically learn how to be an adult. She is currently learning Pranayama, Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda. Katie has lived a lot of life for 19 years, and is currently in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. She now lives a happy, healthy, sober life in which she help others and takes care of herself.
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