20 Things Teenagers Need to Know That School Won’t Teach Them

Ah, the real world – that realm of responsibilities, challenges, and adulting that awaits us, teenagers, as we transition from the comforts of our friendly bubble. Sounds exhausting, right?

One Redditor asked, “Adults of Reddit, what is something every teenager should know about “the real world”?” The thread received many comments, and we have compiled the top 20 tips for you!

1. Know How To Learn

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A discerning Reddit user commented, “During high school, learning how to learn is more important than anything you’re actually learning.”

Another replied, “Learn how to study and work as well. Don’t slack off in high school. You can still pass if you do, but college and life after that will be a b***h if you don’t develop a work ethic. Put in the time to do your homework. Be reliable on the things you need to do. Don’t rely on your teachers chasing you down to get your homework turned in.

Building a good work ethic will do you WONDERS for when you actually need it out in the world. Also, it absolutely sucks to go to college, get seriously swamped in classwork, and not have a built-up work ethic. It’s draining and demoralizing as hell, particularly if you’re not used to it. Do the work now, and it’ll pay off dividends later.”

So, forget about textbooks and boring lectures. Real learning happens when you’re passionate about something. So, go out there and explore your interests.

2. Friendship

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First things first, drop that whole “cool kid” act. In the real world, authenticity is where it’s at. Pretending to be someone you’re not will only attract fake friends and leave you feeling empty inside. People will be drawn to your genuine self, and that’s how you’ll find good friends who’ll stick with you through thick and thin.

One said, “Friendships take maintenance.”

Someone else added, “You don’t need a lot to have a happy life, either. Maintaining one awesome friend is more worthwhile than the struggles of maintaining several okay ones.”

3. Internships

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Okay, so you’ve spent your whole life in school, trying to figure out what you want to be when you “grow up.” Well, internships are your chance to test-drive different careers like a boss.

Want to be a programmer? Score an internship at a tech company. Dreaming of saving lives as a doctor? Get your hands dirty in a hospital internship. Internships allow you to dip your toes in various fields, helping you decide what truly floats your boat before you commit to a career path.

A Reddit user wrote, “Much easier to get good internships with good grades and solid letters of recommendation, though.”

Another added, “Also, internships matter way more than grades.”

A Reddit user wrote, “I think the advice is for someone like me who went to a school without a ton of connections or an internship program, so you kinda had to do it yourself. But I was so focused on getting good grades and graduating on time that I didn’t seek out internships on my own.

So after I graduated, it took me almost a year to find a job that wasn’t minimum wage nonsense, and even then it was mostly physical labor which is what I was trying to avoid by getting an engineering degree in the first place.

Now I’m in my 30s and feeling stuck in my industry (semiconductors) and I can trace it all back to not having an internship in college. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stuck because of other decisions I’ve made since, but in college, I didn’t know internships were important and thought I could get a job based on my academic performance alone.”

4. Competence Over Confidence

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One Redditor stated, “It does open a lot of doors, but you’ll get thrown out pretty quickly once they figure out you’re not competent. I would always ace interviews and then be fired a few months later when they figured out I was incompetent.”

Someone else replied, “Well, yea, it just opens the door. You gotta still be willing to put the work in to be good. Your not really good at faking confidence if you don’t work to keep it up. Us fakers gotta work twice as hard as actually competent people. The cool part of that is we usually become competent in the process.”

As a teenager, did you ever feel like you were competent enough for the real world?

5. Liars

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In the real world, trust is a precious commodity. Trusting blindly can lead to heartbreak, disappointment, or falling for scams. So, our advice? Trust, but verify!

Someone commented, “PEOPLE LIE. Just because they’re an adult doesn’t mean they always tell the truth.”

Another responded, “Just to add to this, people tend to do what’s necessary for them in the moment without thinking much about others besides who are directly next to them. So yes, trust people less. None of your friends are loaning you 200$, so stop lending it out to people when they need it and the like.”

6. Don’t Settle

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Life is too short to settle for mediocrity. Before the real-world hits, seize every opportunity to do the stuff that makes your heart race and your soul come alive!

Someone on Reddit said, “Life never “settles down”. If something is important to you, then you should get to it ASAP.”

Another person added, “Yes. Don’t get complacent or pass up opportunities because you think more will come along. Before you know it, you’ve lost ten years saying, “I’ll do it next week,””

7. Clean Up After Yourself

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Someone on Reddit said, “You know how sometimes you think to yourself “When I’m an adult and have my own place, I’ll be able to do whatever I want”? Make sure whatever you want includes doing the dishes.”

Another person added, “No matter what you eat, there will always be clean up. The cleanup never stops. Embrace it.”

Picking up after yourself isn’t rocket science! It’s all about being mindful and forming good habits.

8. Nothing Is Free

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Money rules the real world. It might not buy happiness, but it sure keeps the lights on. One said, “Everything is expensive when you move out.”

A user responded, “Yes. And nothing is free. You always pay in some way or another, both in private and work life. Once, I asked a consultant an easy yes or no question (since he was already on site and stood in front of me). He sent me an invoice for it. 🤣”

So, be mindful of the favors you ask for, and be ready to return the favor when the time comes. Remember, in the real world; nothing is truly free!

9. Student Loans

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Student loans are the devil’s playground when it comes to debt. Seriously, they can haunt you for years, even decades. Sure, they may seem like a necessity to fund your education, but let’s be real here: being stuck with mountains of debt when you’re just starting your adult life doesn’t sound much of a dream, does it?

Someone shared, “That $220,000 student loan feels pretty hefty when you put it like that.”

Another added, “I wish I had gone to the trades instead of going to college. Perpetual debt sucks. In the USA, the trades are very often overlooked as an option counselors will present to young people. Instead, it’s usually “go to college and make something of yourself.””

10. Comparison

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Comparing yourself to others is like comparing apples to oranges. Each person has their path, struggles, and successes. So, embrace your individuality and focus on your growth.

Don’t waste energy trying to measure up to someone else’s standards. You’re on your own rollercoaster ride of life, and it will be one grand adventure!

One wrote, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Another commented, “The only person you should be comparing yourself to is your past self.”

11. Nothing Is Definite

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Here’s a secret the real world doesn’t want you to know: uncertainty is an adventure of discovery. The real world is full of surprises; the best part is that you uncover hidden gems along the way.

One Reddit user wrote, “You can work hard and do all the right things, and it doesn’t guarantee success. You can be the kindest, best person for others, and they can still betray you. But that doesn’t mean you should not be kind and work hard.”

One wrote, “I hate this because it’s true, and I am Tired of trying.”

12. Self-dependence

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A Redditor wrote, “That sometimes you’ll only have yourself to rely on”

Someone else agreed and said, “I had the same epiphany a bit later, in uni, and I wish I had it earlier. Some people see it as pessimistic, but it’s actually very relieving. As an adult, if you have a problem, it’s on you to fix it, but you are allowed to try. As a child, you depend on your parents to care and agree to help you. If they don’t, you are stuck and powerless.

And other people will never care about your life and problems as much as you do. They might offer to help but expect them to dip if it’s not an easy fix. Knowing that you can’t expect salvation from others and that you have to deal with everything yourself can be better than just wasting time trying to get others to help you.”

In the real world, you’ll face challenges that’ll make your head spin. But guess what? You’ve got the power to rely on yourself and make great decisions.

13. The Plan

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Our plans have more ups and downs than a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes, they soar high, and you feel like a superhero on cloud nine. They crash and burn at other times, leaving you feeling defeated and questioning your life choices. In the real world, you’re going to stumble and face failures. But here’s the thing: failure is just a detour, not a dead end.

Someone said, “Having a goal and a plan in life doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to work out, especially if you don’t come from money. It’s okay to fail. This world is kinda messed up, and it’s not always your fault.”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “You can do everything right and still fail.”

14. Respect

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The opinions of others do not determine your worth. You define your value, and no one has the right to disrespect you. So, don’t waste time caring about those who don’t see your worth. They’re missing out on the awesomeness that you are!

One user said, “Don’t worry about not having the respect of people you don’t respect.”

Someone else added, “Also, people’s bad attitudes/personalities have nothing to do with you. A lot of people had really bad upbringings and are stuck in a cycle of garbage. It’s so much easier mentally to forgive people for being a piece of garbage than to let it mess you up.”

15. Focus On Yourself

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The real world can be a whirlwind of expectations and societal norms, but don’t let that dim your flame. Chase your passions like your life depends on it because it does.

Someone said, “You are the main character in your story, but You are not even an afterthought to 7 billion people. Edit: 8 billion people, d**n!”

Another person shared similar thoughts and mentioned, “Yeah, honestly, people are mostly focused on themselves in day-to-day life. Don’t stress about trying to do things to look good in front of others; they are mostly unaware anyways/forgets.”

16. Jobs Aren’t Everything

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Life is a beautiful mosaic of experiences. Your job is just one tiny piece of that mosaic. So, don’t limit yourself to defining your entire existence by your career because your life is so much more than the nine-to-five grind.

One user said, “Your job sees you as replaceable. Look out for yourself and your family. Your job is not everything, but it will feel like it is, make sure that if you don’t like where you are that you change it. Don’t be miserable at a job because it pays well.”

Someone else added, “Amen. Jobs are just that… jobs. You need them to eat and have a car, etc. They aren’t your life, and no one will remember you after you move on from the job. Eventually, they’ll forget who you were. So take time for family, ignore the stupid after-work dinners and all that stuff. Family matters more.”

17. Try Initiating

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Someone commented, “If you don’t plan your own b-day parties, you won’t have b-day parties. Friends planning something for you are super rare. It’s not like on tv. You have to make an effort to have a social life. You’ll have to work to have a good life, and you’ll be tired like you never have been before. It will make having fun and going out harder.

Enjoy being a teenager as long as you can. But don’t try to fight becoming an adult because it will just get harder and harder.”

Another replied, “It really sucks to read this. But I feel it. I’m in my mid-30s and if I don’t initiate, nothing ever happens. It really does get tiring. And I gave tf up. They don’t even get an ounce of my energy anymore. But I still have a good time without them.”

So, don’t wait around for others to make plans or for opportunities to come knocking. Be the initiator, and watch how the world opens up to you!

18. Say No to YOLO

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YOLO might make for a catchy slogan, but your health, safety, and well-being should always take priority.

Someone said, “YOLO attitude, in most cases, will set you back years in your life.”

Another responded, “There’s a difference between being reckless and doing stuff because you wanna experience new things. Do the latter, avoid the former.”

19. Marketing

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A discerning Reddit user commented, “That it’s all about marketing. It doesn’t matter how hard you work; it’s more about how you sell yourself. That even if your point of view is correct, without proper communication and negotiation skills, no one will probably care.”

Another replied, “100% this. If you don’t toot your own horn, someone else will use it as a spittoon!”

A Redditor wrote, “Wow – this needs to be higher. I know so many incompetent people who are just really good at networking and marketing themselves that they’ve done really well. Anyone who says, “I’m not playing that game; I’m going to let my accomplishments speak for themselves,” is only hurting themselves.”

Your hard work and achievements deserve to be acknowledged. So, don’t be shy about promoting yourself and flaunting your work. You’ve put in the hours, the sweat, and the tears. It’s time to let the world know what you’re made of.

20. Responsibility

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Someone on Reddit said, “You are responsible for everything you do, and you will be held accountable. Enjoy your youth til 16 because, after that, the kid gloves come off.”

Another replied, “16 now. Didn’t expect things to change. They very much did.”

Being responsible isn’t just about doing what’s expected of you but building trust and respect. People notice when you show up on time, meet your commitments, and take ownership of your actions. They see you as someone they can count on!

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This article was produced and syndicated by A Dime Saved.