Many of us are rounding the corner, at a breakneck speed, from depending on mom and dad, to taking on the responsibility of the real world. As we slide into adulthood there are some abilities we should have mastered by now.
Yet somewhere between taking 20 credits a term to graduate, and living on caffeine and pb & j’s for the past four years, some basic skills may have slipped through the cracks. It’s okay to be proud of your knowledge of which breweries have the best happy hour, or your ability to avoid your past hook-up en route to class, but these probably won’t apply to your everyday life after college ends.
The essential skills below are what every modern woman should know by the time she’s 25.
Conquer Your Laundry
This may seem pretty basic, but many young women still seem to think that throwing everything in the washing machine, dumping in some detergent, and putting it on cold works for all types of clothing. Here are a few basic rules for washing your threads:
Don’t wash colors with your whites. This is a great way to turn your favorite white blouse blue, probably not the look you’re going for.
Treat stains as early as possible. Even if you don’t get to washing it right away, putting some stain stick on a coffee spill will help it come out a lot better when you get to it. If you let it sit there for a week, there’s a good chance that stain will be there to stay.
Hang clothes up right away. This is the best way to avoid wrinkles and keep you looking presentable.
Become friendly with a needle and thread. Have you ever been about to head out the door and realized your favorite top has a snag? Instead of tossing it aside to have your mom fix it over break, most things you can easily repair with a basic understanding of sewing.
This DIY sewing board on Pinterest has all sorts of great tips for beginners. Small sewing kits can be found at any craft store for around $2. They include a few needles, around eight different colors of string, and a measuring tape. This is all you need to repair a hole in a skirt or attach a rogue button.
Cook a Real Dinner
“My cooking skills consist of throwing something in the microwave, or boiling water. Going beyond that is asking for trouble,” says McKenzie Carlton, a senior at the UO. Having at least one great recipe is mandatory. Aside from the possibility of scoring you some romance (food really is the way to a man’s heart), making a great meal is perfect for a girl’s night in. Try making dinner for your parents to show them “Look! I really am growing up, even if I still gave you a handmade card for Christmas.”
Taking the time to prepare a meal gives you the chance to unwind from your day and will almost always be healthier than going to a restaurant or thawing something from Costco. Here is my go-to recipe for easy, healthy lasagna. Serve with garlic bread, a side salad, and let the compliments commence.
Budget and Balance
Since you’re going to be making big money in the real world, you’d better know how to manage it. Okay, we’ll most likely be making peanuts after graduation, but it will probably still be more than we’ve ever had. Many young women fall prey to the appeal of credit cards and end up with a mountain of invisible debt. While gaining credit now will pay off later, spending more than is reasonable for your budget will just leave you stressed and without things you really need.
Think about what your paycheck will go towards: rent, utilities, car insurance, cell phone, and etc. and plan ahead. You can download the app Mint that helps you track your budget.
Once you know how much you need to cover important costs, you can start saving for a trip to Spain, or know if you have enough to treat yourself to those Jeffrey Campbell boots you’ve been eyeing.
Put Together a “Big Girl” Ensemble
Yes, I’m sure you looked absolutely jaw-dropping in your 21st birthday dress from Vegas, but that will probably never be appropriate anywhere else. As the year comes to a close, collegiettes will have interviews and professional events to attend as the job search begins.
If you look in your closet and see mostly yoga pants, Duck gear, and dresses that could also act as long shirts, it’s time to put your big girl pants on! But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to dress like your grandmother.
Pair a feminine dress with a modest pencil skirt ankle boots, and your favorite accessories. Outfits like this will give off a "Hire me!" or “Take me seriously” vibe, instead of leaving people wondering if you have other skills aside from maximizing your skin exposure. Meanwhile, you’ll still get to enjoy your own personal style.
Go on a Date With Yourself
After the past four years of creating a social circle and a family away from home, many of us will have to start all over in a new city. Once we enter the workforce,it’s quite possible we’ll be relocating somewhere we don’t know anyone. While moving to a new city is daunting, and the thought of not being able to pop down to your best friend’s to watch “Pretty Little Liars” every week seems lonely, being the new girl gives you many opportunities.
You can be whoever you want. You es- sentially have a clean slate and can start wherever you'd like. Yet the first few months in a new town can make you feel isolated. Before moving, it’s important to know how to feel content by yourself.
So much of college is wrapped up in social events, and we’re usually surrounded by people. Challenge yourself to go out to dinner, a movie, or an event alone. This way when you get to your new city, you won’t be afraid to venture out. If you take the initiative and explore your new location alone, you are likely to meet new people.
At the end of the day, when friends and boyfriends come and go, and your family is across the country, there’s only you. There’s no better time than now to begin to love hanging out with yourself.
Realistically, we’re not going to have it all figured out by 25, or 27, or even 30. But with these six skills you'll be on the way to being the one everyone is asking for quick fixes and great ideas. Let the journey to becoming a capable, independent woman begin.