At the grand old age of 22, it doesn’t look brilliant when I write an article called “6 skills I wish I learned when I was a teenager”. I know what you’re thinking, “But Beck, you are still young”, isn’t it the same difference? Well yeah, it is, but for one reason or another, I wish I learned them at a younger age. I promise you the reason is valid – well, in my opinion anyway.
This article isn’t intended to be a step-by-step guide to hard/soft skills and believe me, you’ll have to give the definition of a “skill” a wide birth. They’re just skills/hobbies I wish I did when I was a teenager for various reasons which I’ll speak about throughout.
I should mention, just because I wish I learned these skills when I was a teenager, doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned them recently or plan on adding them to my arsenal of skills. I am a strong believer that with a little willpower and dedication, anyone can learn anything at any age. Having a desire to learn new things is a mindset, and once that mindset is installed, it can almost become addicting (in a non-detrimental way, obviously).
So, I’ll cut to the chase, these are the 6 skills I wished I learned as a teenager and why.
Since my childhood, I’ve always wanted to snowboard. To eight-year-old me, it looked so effortless and cool, and when Shaun White released his snowboarding game on the Nintendo Wii, I was convinced I wanted to become a snowboarder. But sadly, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, I am not a professional snowboarder and I do not have any plans to become one. But I can snowboard, and I do own a snowboard, so all is not lost. To be completely honest with you, I love snowboarding, but there is one reason why I wish I learnt the skill sooner - pain.
Simply put, it hurts when falling onto the snow. I learnt to snowboard about 2 years ago, and I can hand-on-heart say my coccyx has never been the same since – despite investing in impact shorts. Falling over with a snowboard attached to your feet, which is attached to you, basically results in wherever the snowboard goes, you follow and vice versa. I have ended up in positions I never thought were possible, it’s very much like extreme, random yoga and I’ve lost count of the number of times I have had snow in my ears/nose/mouth. I can honestly say, I’ve unintentionally eaten so much snow in my life, and I thank god that it isn’t the dreaded yellow snow. I know I am not painting the brightest and most appealing of pictures, but for some reason, whenever I fall, I just get back up and do it again.
Due to the pandemic, I haven’t been able to try out my skills at an actual ski resort, I use the local indoor ski-slopes at Manchester and Tamworth. I do hope when the world starts going back to a little more normal, I can go to somewhere like Morzine in the French Alps with long, well-groomed runs to be able to fall over in a new location and try something new. Until then I guess I’ll stick to eating the indoor, chemical snow.
Web Development or Coding
Web-development was a topic that I loved the idea of being able to do, especially when films portray hackers as these people who can touch type quicker than humanly possible. I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to go about learning it.
Learning to code, to the untrained eye, could be seen as quite daunting and hard to get your head around. After I spoke to a few people about it, the process was massively simplified, enough for me to conduct my own research and make decisions on the programming languages I wanted to learn.
Two years later, I’m a lot more comfortable about the topic, but like most things, not without its struggles and difficulties.I simply wish I delved into the world of web development sooner, just so I could spend more time learning and understanding the topic. If web development is something that interests you, find out more! Don’t sit on the idea, conduct research, and try an online course. There are plenty of online resources available to help you on your journey, check them out, don’t delay as I did.
The never-ending world of Microsoft Excel
I cannot reiterate this enough; Excel is absolutely brilliant; I can’t think of a day that goes by that I don’t use Excel.
Need a graph? Use Excel! Want to plan? Use Excel! Want to calculate a complex formula? Use Excel! Whatever your goal in life, Excel can cater towards it – I promise this isn’t an advertisement for Microsoft Excel (well, I think anyway….). There is even a Japanese artist called Tatsuo Horiuchi, who paints with Microsoft Excel, I’ll bet you £10 that Bill Gates didn’t think of that when he was brainstorming the foundations of the software.
I have only realised the power of excel over the past few years, especially Macrons. I’m in absolute awe of the people that know Excel’s full potential, I honestly believe that Excel can do so much more, the only limiting factor is the processing power of your computer. I will say though, in some cases, especially manipulating data, using a SQL database will be more beneficial in the long run, but of course, that’s natural as databases of this type have one main objective…. to handle data. Excel, on the other hand, is a versatile software that has many applications – Excel is like a Jack-of-all-trades, master of none.
I wish I took a little time to appreciate Excel, especially during GCSEs and A-Levels, as it could have helped with revision timetables and even practicing questions. During revision, I’ve found it helps to create a spreadsheet when familiarising yourself with equations and mapping out the cells to interact with each other. I then try a question by hand and cross-reference it with the spreadsheet.
I’ll always remember as a child my Nan teaching me how to sew by sewing her handkerchiefs and unpicking them over and over. I’m afraid, that’s where my sewing talents come to an abrupt end.
I’m starting to find the desire to sew evermore relevant in recent years when I buy reaalllyyyy long-legged Levi’s jeans in the outlet stores (who doesn’t love a bargain?); I then get bored with rolling up my jeans so many times – no wonder they’re so cheap, no one has legs that long. I would love to be able to buy pre-loved clothing from Depop or Vinted and be able to make them my own style with a bit of tailoring.
Sewing is just one of the skills that could get someone out of a few sticky situations, the largest wardrobe malfunction would not seem half as daunting if I knew how to sew. Actually, I do carry around an emergency sewing kit in my handbag, and to be completely honest, I’m not sure why. If I had to undertake emergency repairs, I’m almost certain the repair would look like it was done blindfolded after 6 pints.
A few months back though, I started embroidering, albeit not quite sewing, but they are in the same family of activities. I brought an all-in-one starter pack from Amazon and found some designs from the internet. I really enjoyed it, it was a nice break from staring at a screen, and hopefully, with more time I might move onto more sewing-related activities, maybe even alter my own pair of Levi’s one day.
Looking back at ALL the musical instruments I attempted to learn over the years, I could have started an orchestra or at least a band – a slightly odd one at that. I’ll always remember when my Mum found out I wanted to learn another instrument, after me realising the previous instrument wasn’t for me, it was never an over-enthusiastic response. Nevertheless, over the years I have had lessons in (in no particular order): trumpet, trombone, violin, clarinet, piano, and guitar, but for some reason, none of them stuck. I never felt inclined to continue learning an instrument after a year or two, not sure why, it just never happened.
I do wish now I continued to practice at least one, maybe the piano or guitar, especially now with the online learning resources available at such a good price and in some cases, free!
I think I always had more important things to be doing, like studying or playing sports, so I never dedicated the time to learning the instrument and enjoying it, practicing always felt like a chore even though it shouldn’t. As we’re all aware, when something feels like a chore, it’s very rarely enjoyable and becomes something that needs to be done “just because”. When I feel like this, I know I’ll never be optimally learning and it’s almost a waste of time.
When I’ve got the time, so it doesn’t feel like a chore, I want to learn the guitar or piano. To be able to dedicate some time to learn and understand the process and enjoy it! After all, if you don’t enjoy learning something like a musical instrument, what’s the point?
I sometimes (not all the time) personify the saying “a bull in a china shop”, for the people that know me, I bet you’re thinking “well…you’re not wrong”, and trust me, I’m fully aware. I feel like this is starting to sound like a personal confession more than a blog post. I am one of those people who never stop, if I’m not doing one thing, I’ll be doing another, and going 1000 miles per hour is my lifestyle. However, since March 2020 when we were forced into our homes, I suddenly found myself in this holiday-like state of mind. I didn’t have to rush anywhere; I wasn’t not in the house. I suddenly had time, it was like the day had gained an extra 4 or 5 hours, it was magic in my opinion.
Since then, I have found there is such power in being able to step back and take time to think. I wish as a teenager I wasn’t so focused on one thing or another, I wish I had a more relaxed perspective and took time to make mistakes and think about things. I’m not saying this would have changed the course of my history, but I think it would have been a lot simpler especially with the number of things I tried to juggle.
Even now, I am still realising I need to give myself more time to relax, though I do try to, sometimes I can’t help but live at 1000 miles per hour, after all, it is my natural habitat.
In a roundabout way, what I’m trying to say is: it doesn’t matter what you wished you had learnt when you were younger, if you still have that desire, what’s stopping you from learning a new skill? I know it’s easy to hide behind excuses/reasons (whatever you want to call them), and of course, some are perfectly valid. Though, if you want to do something enough, find the time, ignore the excuses and just do it! I’ve found there is never a perfect time to do anything, I always thought waiting would help solve some excuses, and in my experience, they don’t.
In this article, I’ve stated several skills I wished I learnt when I was a teenager. Although I wish I did them sooner, I’ve still got round to doing them, and I have benefited from it. Now it’s your turn!
Stay busy, Be curious.