27 Things Every 20 Something Year Old Should Know How To Do

In your early teens, you can’t imagine being 25 let alone what your life might be like realistically but you definitely aren’t thinking about the skills you’re going to need as an official “adult”.

Adulting is hard.

Every adult is looking for another adult who is adulting better than they are to save their ass in times of need… until they become that adultier adult that a less adulting adult is looking for!

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So, what kind of things should we know to be even semi-successful in this unexpected adulting life we find ourselves in before we even realised? Here’s a list of the top skills I think all 20 something-year-olds need to know:

Health and self-care

  • How to give yourself a breast/testicular exam. This is a literal life saver. Ask your GP, look online. However you find out how to do it, make sure you know how and do it often.
  • How to get enough exercise. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise – that’s any exercise that gets your heart pumping and your breathing rate increasing.
To stay healthy, adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do: at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week, and. strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) – NHS
  • How to write a will. In the event of your death, a will makes sure there are no loose ends of unfinished business in terms of money and assets. You can write your own will but you need to make sure it’s valid.
  • When to get a smear test. From the age of 25, all women registered with a GP in the UK are invited to a cervical screening every 3 years. This is not a compulsory test but can help to catch abnormalities in the early stages.
  • How to drink responsibly. Knowing your limits is essential when it comes to alcohol – nobody wants to black out or end up vomiting for hours on end because they drank too much. Also, knowing not to leave your drink OR not to drink it again if you have left it. Both drinking too much and drinking a drink you’ve left unattended can end up in unwanted situations such as rape or assault.
  • How to perform CPR/basic first aid. A life-saving skill that can be learnt within a day by attending a first-aid course.


  • How to use a washing machine. When I moved into my home aged 21 with my newborn, I had a washing machine but wasn’t entirely sure how to use it. I felt kind of silly and wish it was something my mum had shown me. Know which drawer is for what, the difference between bio and non-bio, and make sure for the love of all things good that you get and use some colour catching sheets!
  • How to paint walls. This is essential for anyone in their own home with not a lot of money. We can’t all afford interior designers, painters etc. Choose a colour, buy some brushes/rollers and get painting. If you still feel a bit lost, I’m sure YouTube or WikiHow can help.
  • How to cook properly. Everyone needs to eat and this doesn’t mean learn how to take things out of the freezer and put them in the oven. I’m talking even a few dishes that you can cook for yourself from scratch with fresh ingredients. This applies to EVERYONE. In this day and age, nobody should be unable to make a nutritious meal for one (or a few) like this recipe for an easy to make curry. 
  • How to sew. Basic sewing skills can save you money because you can sew that button back on or fix that ripped seam. There’s a reason they used to teach this skill in school!

Work & Finances

  • How to budget. I admit I am terrible at this hence I have handed over all financial responsibilities to Mr Me. He pays all the bills. If he was to leave one day, it would be hard for me because nobody taught me how to manage my money and I’m still trying to make it work for me. Money management is so important in this day and age. Nobody wants to be broke. Don’t be broke!
  • How to use a credit card responsibly. Some will say using a credit card at all isn’t responsible but they can be a key influencer in building credit if you know how to use them. Never get or use a credit card if you know you don’t have the means to cover the spending. Try to get your credit limit as low as possible to avoid finding yourself in masses of debt. Don’t use another credit card to pay off a credit card you used to pay off a credit card.
  • How to clear debt. Nobody likes to find themselves in debt but when you do, know how to handle it. There are organisations such as StepChange that can help you to pay off your debt in amounts you can afford each month. They help to ease some of the pressure and help you to get your debt paid off.
  • How to resign gracefully. I mean beyond throwing up a deuces sign and saying “fuck this shit, I’m done!” before walking out the door. Find out about any policies in place about resignation, make sure you are prepared to work your notice and then resign either in person after requesting a meeting with your manager or send a formal resignation email including HR in the Cc. If you do the latter, be prepared to speak to your manager when they want to discuss your decision. I once had enough of my job and just never went back, literally. No notification, nothing. I was 17 and that was ridiculous.
  • How to negotiate a pay rise. I know this is scary and even intimidating but the worst that can happen is the say no. That’s it. Nothing lost and nothing gained. If you believe you deserve that pay rise, fight for it with valid reasoning and evident proof. If you’re still not happy, maybe start looking for another better-paid role elsewhere.
  • How to write a CV/Cover Letter or Complete an application form. Finding work is probably one of the biggest responsibilities of becoming an independent adult and even self-employed people need a CV to attract their service users. A good CV or application form can be the difference between getting an interview or not!


  • How to change a tire (if you have a car). This can save time and money on calling out a repair company plus it makes you kind of bad ass.
  • How to jump start a car. Learning how to use jumper cables and possibly keeping some in the boot of the car can help to avoid a good day turning into a bad one when the battery of yours, or someone else’s, car dies.

Life responsibilities and essentials

  • How to make a complaint. It’s not always the right thing to get into an immediate altercation with someone because you don’t like or agree with their behaviour, especially in their professional environment or even in yours. Know who you need to talk to. Make a formal complaint without being aggressive. I recently made a complaint about a member of staff in my local Halifax due to their rude demeanour and it was taken seriously because I took the appropriate action.
  • How to end a relationship in the nicest possible way. In person; not before an important event i.e. a job interview; give your reasonable explanation and be prepared to answer any questions they might have. Do not get guilted into changing your mind or allow them to call you out of your name. You’re entitled to do what makes you happy. 
  • How to say “No”. You are allowed to say No. It is your right to say No. If saying No is better for you in that moment than agreeing to something, then say No.
  • How to apologise. Be sincere. Nothing is worse than a false or insincere apology. Apologise for what you know you have done wrong.
  • How to vote (even if you don’t want to vote). The instructions on voting are pretty simple and there are usually instructions on the ballot papers. If you don’t want to vote for anyone, you should still vote. Not voting can still impact a result in some demographics so in that case, you should Blank Vote or Spoil your Ballot paper. Blank voting means you turn up to vote and submit a blank ballot. Spoiling the ballot means you mark the paper anywhere other than an “X” in a box by a candidate’s name – this could be doodling, scribbling, crossing out names, writing across the whole paper.
  • How to start a fire (without matches etc). It seems random but apparently, it is one survival skill that could help to save your life in an emergency situation.
  • How to swim. Another potential life-saving skill – for both yourself and somebody else.
  • How to dress for all occasions. Job interviews, dates, parenting etc. Knowing how to dress properly can help to make a good first impression as well as compliment your individual beauty.
  • How to speak another language. 75% of the world doesn’t speak English so if that’s the only language you know, it’s time to make an effort to learn something new!

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I’m sure there are plenty more skills people should know. What do you think is missing from this list? Let me know in the comments! 


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