12 Things You Have To Know About The Real World Before You Turn 18

Being a teenager means hearing adults say a lot of annoying things all the time. For example: “Look at these kids, always on their phone! They don’t pay attention to anything else!” and “Kids today are so lazy. I don’t know how they’ll survive!” and “You have nothing to be sad about. You’re young! Get over it!” These phrases will make you immediately roll your eyes, but one of the most annoying things to hear, by far, is this one: “Just wait until you get in the real world.” It’s like… what’s in the ~real world~ that is so horrible? Are you, uh, not in a real world right now because of your age? Does life really get that miserable when you’re done with school? And how the eff are you supposed to prepare for this real world when no one will give you any actual advice?

As someone who is, I guess, officially in the real world, I can tell you that things aren’t quite as terrible as everyone makes them seem to be… but they definitely are different! No matter how much advice you get before heading out there, it’s still going to feel weird and jarring and scary. That said, it is definitely helpful to keep certain things in mind so that you can at least try to prepare for what you’ll have to deal with. This Ask Reddit thread asks adults what teenagers have to know about the real world… and it’s actually all really good stuff to hear! So, before you turn 18-years-old and become an official adult, you have to know this stuff. Trust me – it will make things just a little bit easier.

You Have To Find Motivation Every Day

While I firmly believe that being an adult is not as bad as everyone says it is, I definitely agree that it can be incredibly tough sometimes. There are a lot of mundane, boring things you have to do every day to survive that can get so tiring that they can easily make you into a bitter, miserable person. You have to actively fight that (unless you are naturally sunny and positive). This means that you have to find motivation in your own way. User RemyL_0324 says, "You will have to find ways to motivate yourself, enforce structure and a routine in your daily life, or likely will have difficulty in all aspects of the real world. Also, sometimes you'll probably be bored. Learn to be okay with being still and not having all kind of stuff happening at once."

I find that I have to motivate myself to really get myself to enjoy every day. I do this by using a bullet journal, which makes organizing and getting things done more fun and creative for me. I also do this by giving myself rewards and incentives, like vacations, things I can buy if I save up enough money, stuff like that. You have to find what works for you, though. It really does help!

Mental Health Issues Can Happen At Any Time

A lot of people wrongly assume that if you have no mental health issues growing up, you'll be okay forever. That's definitely not true. As user moomoomego says, "Mental health or physical health issues can spring up at any time in your life and ignoring it doesn't make it better. In the real world you won't necessarily have parents around to get you help. Keep a regular doctor even if you don't think you need it, and address any mental health issues before they start to affect the rest of your life."

One great tip for being an adult: find a good therapist. Don't underestimate the power of therapy.

Source: iStock

Maintaining Friendships Is Really Tough

Here's one thing that sucks about getting older - probably my least favorite thing, to be honest: friendships become incredibly tough. User VelociraptorSex explains: "You're going to have to work really hard at friendships. Gone are the days of being thrust into a sea of people who you spend all your days with. You'll be surprised how many friendships die off when you don't see each other every day. You have to actually go out and find people with common interests that are good people. Then you're going to have to work to plan around both your work schedules to actually see each other. You're going to have to actually pick up the phone and call. The pool of people to draw from will shrink dramatically as will the amount of time you're able to devote to socializing. Make sure your give your time to good people who lift you up and positively contribute to your happiness. You don't have time for toxic people you can't trust. Once you become isolated as an adult, it's much harder to break out of that isolation."

It's true! I've lost a lot of friends I thought would be in my life forever. I can go months without seeing any of my best friends (not for lack of trying). Making plans requires weeks in advance. It's not as easy as it is when you're in school.

Source: iStock

Nobody Will Try To Help You

This sounds bleak, but it's mostly true: finding help is hard as you get older. People become more selfish, and they become okay with being selfish - and you'll become that way too. User andybuxx says, "Nobody will go out of their way to help you. Or encourage you to do things that will improve your life like teachers and parents do. It'll be up to you to make things happen for yourself. Life is something you have to participate in; it doesn't just happen to you."

Of course, this isn't always true. Not everyone sucks, and you'll be surprised at the help you'll get during certain times of your life. But at the same time, it's good to learn to rely on yourself, and to figure out who else you can really rely on too.

Source: iStock

Being Good At Your Job Isn't Always About Your Skills

It's easy to assume that moving up in the career world is about your skill set - because that's how it should be. Unfortunately, it isn't. Sometimes, the little things are more important than how good you are. User Blerpblerppoop explains, "At work, there are three things that are important to achieve success: Being on time. Producing quality work. Being pleasant to work with. You only need two of those qualities to keep your job. If you're all three you're never gonna get fired. If you're only one you won't last very long."

Quality of work does matter, of course, but making friends in the work place is way more important than it should be, and little things like being on time, working late, and dressing correctly are also essential.

Source: iStock

Figure Out What's Worth The Extra Money

To me, the worst thing about being in the real world is dealing with money issues. You really have to learn how to be smart with money, which can be so tough. One thing that can help is figuring out what's worth it. User themadscientwist says, "Be smart with money, look for value in what you buy. Focus on stuff that lasts long and can guarantee security and minimal hassles. The 5 percent less you spend today, will have a shortcoming that proves its value. You almost always, get exactly what you pay for. That being said, don't underestimate the value of non material things. Choose travel over material stuff cause once you're settled, it won't be an option. You can keep the same shitty phone for an extra year and take a road trip. Don't burn your money on 6 pints of Friday night booze when you can have 3 of them after a 6 hour drive outside the city. The world is huge as fuck, but you need to make sure your world isn't the tiny bubble between your watering hole, your school/college/work and home."

All great advice! And yes, the note about choosing travel sounds corny, but it's true.

Source: iStock

Bailing On Commitments Will Make Things Harder For You

One important thing about being an adult? You have to learn how to have accountability. You don't have to go to everything - but you do have to be polite and responsible about bailing. User partofbreakfast says, "If you say you're going to do something, do it. Nothing will burn bridges faster than not standing by your commitments. And if you absolutely have to break a commitment, let the person know well in advance. Ideally as soon as you find out you can't do what you said you would do."

It's true: constantly saying no or bailing at the last minute gets old fast when you're older and there are real commitments on the line. Learn how to communicate, and also learn how to compromise your time for other people. If you can't do that, you'll lose a lot of friends and work connections.

Source: iStock

Making Personal Connections Is Extremely Important For Work

One other job tip: as user SteadyNights says, "It's not what you know it's who you know." This could not be more true, and is another example of how your skill set is not always the most important thing. I know more people who got their job because of who they knew (like nepotism) rather than what they can do. I know too many people who are really great, but can't get hired because they don't know the right people. It sucks, it's not fair, but it happens all the time. Learn how to network and be fake friendly, because without connections, getting a job will be incredibly difficult.

Source: iStock

Nothing Is Ever Fair

On that note: something your parents probably say a lot really is true. User princessJJ says, "Life is not fair. Sometimes even when you do the right thing, you are still gonna get screwed over and there is nothing you can do about it." You're probably sick of hearing that, but it rings so true in the real world. Things will suck sometimes, and you have to learn how to get through it.

Source: iStock

You'll Never Feel Like A Real Adult

Okay, listen, I'm in my late 20s, and I still don't feel like an adult. When I get told to do certain things, I still think, "WTF? I have no idea what I'm doing." This is normal! User DrSuperZonic says, "Just cause you're an adult doesn't mean you have things figured out." Don't expect to grow up and just know things - everything has to be figured out with experience.

Source: iStock

You're Already In The Real World

User thetrishwarp makes a good point, saying, "You're already in the real world. Being in school or living with your parents or working in retail or food service doesn't make your life any less real, or difficult, or valid. Take things seriously. Take ownership for yourself and for your actions. Set smaller, achievable goals and work to meet them. I think it's damaging to refer to some time in the future as the "real world". Everyone is different. You're not 'avoiding the real world' if you go back to school at 33 or get laid off and move in with your parents at 27 or haven't had children on your 40th birthday. Your world is real, treat it that way." It's true, and it's an interesting way of thinking about things.

Source: iStock

It's Really Not That Bad

I stick to what I said in the beginning: being an adult is not as bad as people make it seem. User kingfrito_5005 says, "Contrary to what reddit will often tell you, the real world is 347893407893524 times better than being a teenager." It's true! People will try to make you think getting older sucks all the time, but it doesn't: there are certain advantages that are great. So, don't let them fool you.

Source: iStock

Which one of these tips have you never heard before? What’s your best advice? Share in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.


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