4 Life Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Before Adulting

There are so many things I wish I had learned when I was younger.

Yes, of course, I mean in terms of personal development too. But for right now I am talking about practical matters. There are so many things that I wish I had been taught before I entered into the “real world” that I just was not.

And let me tell you, when I did first attempt to “adult,” I was very confused (and honestly, i still kind of am).

All of it reminds me of that episode of Friends where Rachel gets her first paycheck, looks at it, and goes, “Who’s FICA? Why’s he getting all of my money?” I felt that so hard (and still feel it too).

4 Things I Wish I Had Learned Before “Adulting”

Here is just a glimpse at some of the things I wish I personally had known.

1. Your salary is not the amount of money you will actually be receiving.

This can be common sense for some, but it is not always something that fully clicks in your head from the beginning. It is something that is important to keep in mind when you are given a figure for your first salary.

You may be more than fine starting at $30,000 but remember that taxes will be coming out of that paycheck. These taxes can be local and state taxes, depending on where you work. If you live in a different state than you are working in, taxes for both states are something to take into account as well. You will not be taking home $30,000 annually.

Additionally, if you are over the age of 26 or if you are unable to be on your parents healthcare, insurance will be coming out of your paycheck as well. Because of all of this, when you are first presented with a figure, that some time and figure out approximately how much money will be taken out of each paycheck, and how much money you will actually be bringing home.

2. Taxes need to accurately be filed, on time, and do not always result in a tax return. 

I always assumed that taxes were much simpler than they are, since it is something that everyone has to do. That is not the case. I am personally extremely fortunate and have an accountant in the family who helps me. If you know someone who is an accountant, do not hesitate to ask for help! They can be tricky and you need to ensure accuracy.

One important thing that I did not realize was that not everyone gets a tax return. In fact, most years, I end up owing money due to all of the freelance work that I do. As you can imagine, this was quite the shock for me after hearing about others getting hundreds (some even thousands!) of dollars back.

3. Just because you have health insurance doesn’t mean you won’t still have to pay. 

It’s almost like a sad game — how much will this trip to urgent care cost me? I had strep throat last year and despite being fully insured, my urgent care visit (where I legitimately looked at the doctor, told her I had strep and asked for medicine, she did a throat culture, and that was that) cost me an additional $400 on top of what my plan payed!

What am I paying for monthly if I then still need to pay when I go to the doctor? This is a question I unfortunately still do not have the answer to, and one that is a heated debate in this country right now, so I will just leave it at that.

4. As we get older, so do our loved ones.

This isn’t something that needs to be taught necessarily, but it is something that I would have loved to have been better prepared for.

We have entered into a new chapter of our lives, and unfortunately that means that so have our parents and grandparents.

Dealing with relatives in the hospital is heartbreaking. As children, we tend to be shield from these things. As adults, we are not. We are there, sitting with our loved ones, talking to doctors, relaying information to other family members, and so on. We need to be proactive, the voice of our loved one who cannot advocate for themselves. We need to deal with sickness, and unfortunately death as well. And none of that is ever easy.


There are so many things that I wish I had been taught — or forewarned about — at a younger age.

There are so many aspects of adulthood that come at you that you never would have even thought about before. But, there is comfort in the fact that it happens to almost all of us. We are all just rolling with the punches, and trying to figure out this thing called life.