There’s something about the way the number ‘9’ affects us mentally. We see $9.99 as $10, and we tend to take more risks when our ages end with 9. In fact, a survey across 100 countries revealed that people whose ages ended with ‘9’ questioned the meaning or purpose of life more than those of other ages.
But being a 9-ender isn’t all bad: in Daniel Pink’s recent book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, he explains that 29-year-olds were about twice as likely to run a marathon as 28- or 30-year-olds, and that runners who had done multiple marathons posted faster finish times at 29 than in the two years before or after hitting their nine-ender ages.
So if you’re 19, then it’s an even bigger challenge, since you’ve just entered full-on adulthood. It’s also an age when the choices you make at school will have an impact on your entire future career – which is why many 19 year-olds may be struggling to find ‘meaning in life’, or why poly grads have difficulty choosing a course at university.
But don’t worry, it’s normal to ponder about the next stage in life, but what will probably help ease your mind (and probably your parents’) is if you already know the things you’re supposed to know by the time you’re 19. Here are just some of them:
Be able to look for jobs
Even if you’re planning to further your studies or start your business, learning to write a cover letter and a resume, or calling about a job is an essential skill no matter what your situation.
You should already build yourself a LinkedIn profile to start yourself on the way to becoming a professional adult.
Know how to run a household
You may live with your parents now, but you probably won’t forever, so now’s a good time to start learning about how to run a household – by contributing to housework, as it gives you the skills to live by yourself. You’ll also need to learn budgeting for things like food and bills.
As a side note, you should also be able to shop for groceries and learn to eat healthily (fast food meals may be cheap now but you’ll pay for them later). Bonus points if you already have your own regular exercise regime.
Learn how the healthcare system works
If you’re already going to the doctor’s by yourself, then congratulations. Needless to say, you should already know your own health history without referring to your parents. It doesn’t hurt to also learn about the healthcare system – like when do you go to the emergency room, and when you really need to see a doctor.
It doesn’t hurt to also learn about basic first aid, and recognise basic emergencies, so you’ll know what to do in case you have ailments like food poisoning or a gastric attack.
Deal with paperwork
As an adult you’ll be inundated with paperwork. These include everything from filing insurance claims, applying for HDBs, or even getting a mobile phone contract. You’ll have to get used to filling in forms by yourself.
Be knowledgeable about current affairs
Try to follow news channels, because there are basic things you’ll need to know. As a 19-year old, you should have basic awareness of issues like politics and current affairs, instead of being an expert on things like K-Pop. These may not interest you, but they may have an impact on your life.
It’s also time to socialise with people outside your usual social circle, and issues like these are good common ground.
Know how to plan your own travel
Some of you may already be doing this for your family holidays, but travelling solo (aka without the aid of family) can be challenging. Remember the girl who went on a grad trip to Japan? You don’t want to end up detesting travel because of one bad planning mistake. Also, don’t be a snowflake.
Travelling has a way of broadening minds, and you don’t need to travel far.
Learn about financial literacy
You’ve already got a bank account, and maybe even a credit card or two. We’re assuming you already know how to earn and manage money. But if you’re going to live like an adult, you’re going to need to know how to handle basic banking – like making deposits with cheques, making money transfers, and paying your bills on time. Sure, these practices may change with e-payments, but not everyone is on the same page.
Bonus points if you’re looking into investments, bonds, and funds – being an adult means learning how to make your money work for you. Rather than blowing your part-time earnings on new sneakers, you may want to consult with your bank to talk about investments instead.
Know how to talk to strangers
You’re 19, not 9, and you need be able to talk to strangers – face to face. You may be more comfortable hiding behind emails and text messages, but you’ll need to expand your horizons. How else will you be able to connect with people around you, like bank tellers, restaurant staff, or even your lecturers? Sadly, thanks to technology, the younger generation has lost this very basic human art of communication. Besides, by seeing people face to face, you’ll be less likely to fall for lies – like love scams.
Navigate your way around
You may all know how to use Google Maps to get to places. That’s the one thing that tech is good for – but for those of you who don’t know how to get around, it’s time to brush on those skills because you’ll never know when you’ll need to get to your next interview location.
Remember: you must be able to do all of these things without resorting to calling your parents, because if you do, it means that you don’t yet have the life skills that you should have at your age.