5 essential life skills absolutely everybody needs to learn

A while back I wrote an article about 10 essential skills for every bad-ass, independent women. And then I thought, By George! I am onto something here. But this time, I won't discriminate. This list is 5 essential life skills that EVERYBODY needs to learn.

1. how to not get way too drunk and be "That Guy".

We've all done it, my friend. Maybe you forgot to eat during the day, or you got swept up in the excitement of an open bar, or you volunteered to take those shots no one else wanted. We've all been the guy who got (accidentally) way drunker than everyone else at the party and woke up the next morning regretting being born. And sometimes, that's fine! It happens to the best of us. But sometimes, it is NOT fine... like if you were at a work function and shared way too much information about your personal life, or if you were at a wedding and let out what you really thought of the bride, or any number of other horrifying scenarios.

- The first step to not being That Guy at an inopportune time is realizing where you are. It sounds simple, but this is the first mistake most people make. Are you at the bar with pals after work on a Saturday night? Go crazy! Are you at a work function on a Tuesday afternoon? Tame yourself. Just because there is booze doesn't mean you have to drink it.

- The second step is food. If you know you'll be imbibing, make sure to eat beforehand. Don't skip meals. Carb up! An empty stomach is a cheap drunk.

- The third step is water. "No way man, I need another drink, not a water. I'm not even drunk yet, you're so square". False. You will thank me later. Have one glass of water for every 1 or 2 drinks, and have a few big glasses of water before bed to help the hangover you will probably have.

- The fourth step is knowing when to stop. Think you're at a good level of drunk? For god's sake, stop drinking. A funny thing happens when you keep drinking... You get drunker. And it's all downhill from there.

2. how to make small talk, professional or otherwise.

I know. Small talk sucks. But your skill level with small talk can help you gain friends, score jobs, secure good contacts, and entirely change people's perception of you. You don't want people to meet you and immediately be looking for the exits. So a few tips for those who struggle:

- Ask questions. I cannot stress this enough. Way too often, I meet new people and they fill the conversation with stories about themselves, and I stand there listening without being able to contribute anything. As interesting as I'm sure you are, every person secretly wants to talk about themselves.
Instead of rambling on about yourself, ask the other person - what do they do, and how did they get into that line of work? What hobbies do they have (and do you have any in common)? Did they grow up in this city? etc.
Or if you're more adventurous, something ridiculous like -  what kind of cookie would they be and why?
Asking questions will give the impression you are interested and genuinely care about getting to know them. Hopefully that person also reads this article and they ask you questions back.

- Listen. Don't interrupt them mid-sentence to tell them about something related to their story. Absolutely don't check your phone. Don't let your eyes wander elsewhere. Focus on them and the body language they are giving you, and contribute to the conversation.

- Smile. Easy. Even if their story doesn't interest you but they are obviously excited about it, be excited for them. Engage in the conversation, be friendly, and smile.

3. how to own an event where you don't know anyone.

Remember that time I taught you all about small talk? This will save your frickin' life in an event where you don't know anyone. There is no terror like walking into a party of 10, 100, or 1000 people and realizing you don't know anyone besides the host. Time to pull your socks up!

- Find someone who is also alone. Other people who are also standing alone are easy targets to make conversation with. Once you have found a kindred soul, you two can go join other groups and make even MORE friends! Friends friends friends!

Small talk. Remember? Ask questions. Listen. Smile.

- Be honest. Make a joke of the fact that you don't know anyone at the party. Everyone has been in that awkward situation before, and I find I'm usually welcomed in even more if I'm flyin' solo! Some would call it pity. I call it: them realizing your potential awesomeness and independence.

- Know when to leave. There is nothing worse than accidentally finding yourself in a personal conversation where you are obviously not welcome. Politely excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, call the babysitter, refill your drink, or check if the host needs help. On your way back, find a new group to chat with.

4. how to take a compliment.

"You're really pretty!"
"No, YOU'RE really pretty! Oh no, my hair looks terrible today. You're like, way prettier than me. I hate this outfit. And I accidentally spilled something on my shirt."


This is something that almost every person I know struggles with, especially girls. Girls are the WORST for this! How about... instead of a) putting yourself down, b) denying the compliment, or c) pointing out something negative that they might not have noticed, you just say thank you? That's all. Just a big, genuine smile, and a big, genuine thank you.

5. how to be alone on purpose (and happy about it).

This is also something that 99% of people are bad at. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being by yourself - in fact, it's incredibly beneficial. Take time to yourself (on purpose!) to unwind and do things that you like to do. Take yourself on the best date you can think of. Want to go to a concert or a movie but have no one to go with? Just go! Really want to go for brunch? Take a book and sit by yourself and om nom nom all day long. Don't be scared or intimidated by spending time by yourself - cherish your time alone to recharge your batteries and find out what YOU like.

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