11 Life Lessons You Won’t Learn in the Classroom

December 4, 2014

Life Lessons

Graphing equations. The molecular structure of sugar. The war of 1812. These are all things you (hopefully) learned about in school. We are told that school prepares you for life, and there are a lot of things that you do learn in school that you eventually use in the real world, like math. Please learn math. One day your phone is going to die/be left on your bedside table at home (even though you told yourself to remember it, grr!), and you’re going to have to calculate something simple in front of fellow humans without the help of a servant-like app. Just do it.


All that said, no amount of book reporting, field-tripping, and science-fairing can prepare you for life after school. Despite billions of people having lived life for thousands of years, it’s impossible to distill the entirety of human experience into 12 years of schooling. There are about eleventy billion things about life that you won’t learn in class. Out of those eleventy billion things, here are 11 of them to get you started.


  1. Common courtesy: When someone holds the door open for you, SAY THANK YOU. Don’t get hung up on gender roles or stubborn issues about not wanting to be helped. The other person doesn’t know that. They’re trying to be nice even though their day has likely been crammed with moments of wanting to move to an island, so just be appreciative. Really, your parents should’ve taught you this, but it seems like we as a people are failing at this, so someone has to say it. If everyone did this, the collective happiness of the world would increase and we wouldn’t even need puppies to make us feel better.


  1. Negotiation: Just about anything can be negotiated for price, perks, and freebies. Don’t like the price of that chair? Offer a lower price. Paying too much for cable? Ask them to throw in DVR service for free. Places that have actual salespeople (car dealerships, furniture stores, electronics stores, service providers) are most ripe for negotiating price. Remember, the place that is selling you things negotiated the price themselves from wherever they bought it from. The worst someone can say is “no.” Be careful, though. You could bargain your way to a cheaper crispy chicken sandwich at the drive-thru, but it’s probably not worth the ire of everyone waiting behind you. With great power comes great responsibility.


  1. Holding babies: One day you may be called upon to hold your friend’s baby/nephew/niece/son/daughter. Some people react more calmly to a jar of spiders being tossed at them than a baby being handed to them. It’s a good skill to learn, so as to not totally freak out the parents. Or you could just never hold a baby.


  1. How to eat food: According to every other video on the Internet, you’ve been peeling/eating/cooking every food the wrong way all of your life and your mother is very disappointed in you.


  1. Singing “Happy Birthday” in tune: Not even Susan Boyle can do this. That’s why you only ever see people singing this song as a group–in the hopes that the cacophony of noises somehow morph into some semblance of a pleasant sound.


  1. Mailing packages: One time in my early 20s I successfully sold something on eBay. I proceeded to mail the actual box of the thing I sold without first putting it in a shipping box. The guy at the UPS store didn’t think to tell me I needed to first put my box in a shipping box. I stuck the shipping label on it, shipped it off, and it promptly was stolen or lost en route. That was the first and last time I ever sold something on eBay.


  1. Using your turn signal: Ever since schools started cutting drivers ed programs, lack of turn signal use has nearly become an epidemic. Humans have not yet developed the ability to telepathically read the part of the brain that performs lane changes and left-hand turns across four lanes of traffic. So until we’ve all evolved into Professor Xavier from X-Men, just use the damn blinker.


  1. Line jumping: Just pick a line and stay in it. Don’t keep line jumping. It’s not worth it.


  1. Getting fees waived: The fees. THE FEES. Service fees, transfer fees, setup fees, installation fees, fees for no damn reason. If you are ever encountered with some kind of B.S. fee, ask for it to be waived. Just ask. As much as companies would hate to not have that money, they need your continued patronage and positive Yelp reviews even more. Sometimes they’ll just waive it. Asking never hurts. I learned this one from my wife. She always asks, and a lot of the time, they do it. Score for the little people!


  1. Splitting the check with more than two people: The bringing of the check at a restaurant is the equivalent of the record needle scratch at a party – the fun just stops. Who ordered what? Do you base the tip pre-tax or post-tax? How much do we leave for the tip? What IS a tip, really? You learned division in school, but when the bill comes, it’s as if you never passed 1st grade math.


  1. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks: School is where you could most use this advice, yet it’s never really taught, and so much needless anxieties and angst could’ve been avoided. People can tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, but in the end, you are living you are your life, not them–so do what you believe is right for your life.** Toss out those angsty t-shirts and moody eyeliner. Hot Topic might go out of business, but hey, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs/Linkin Park CDs.


** Exception – your parents. You should listen to them because they love you and care about you and have lots of good life lessons to bestow. They are also probably still paying your cellphone bill. Data plans don’t grow on trees!


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