5 Essential Skills You Need to Master Life

Besides your studying, there are other skills which you'll learn throughout college. Find out what they are! 

At the beginning of my Cambridge A Level programme, I made a promise to myself that I would maximise my time in college. So I picked up as many commitments as possible to fill up my free time throughout my learning journey. Though I’ve experienced many ecstasies and burnouts thanks to this decision, it also made me acknowledge the importance of certain life skills and how much I wish to learn more of them in order to be a better version of myself.

Life skills refer to the essential skills that one needs to perform their day-to-day activities and to overcome the challenges in life. Here I’ve compiled the 5 life skills that I wish to master in the near future and I hope that this sparks your interest to pursue the life skills that you want to hone for your education journey!

#1. Self-awareness


Self-awareness is when we’re able to reflect ourselves through an objective lens. We’re self-aware when we can identify the reasons why we’re feeling certain emotions and able to evaluate its rightness according to different situations. In other words, you know yourself and you’re your own best friend. 

When you’re aware of your strengths and weaknesses, it helps to foster a deeper connection to oneself. The impact of equipping oneself with skills to self-awareness is astounding. Not only is it a key to boost your confidence and self-esteem to practise mindfulness, it’s also a crucial element to nurture empathy — an emotion that’s needed more than ever during these difficult times, to keep us connected to our loved ones despite the distance.

It’s no surprise that you feel lost as a teenager or a young adult. I feel that too, especially the moment after I finished my A Level examinations. “So, what’s next?” This led me to recognise the importance of self-awareness and journaling has been my way of fostering this skill. By putting my thoughts into words, I’ve discovered my deep-rooted passion for public speaking and ultimately cleared some fogginess of who I wish to become in the future. I’m not a master in this skill yet, but it’s definitely a skill that I’d want to hone for a long time!

#2. Cooking


I’ve never cooked in my life. Not even once. And that’s why I need to learn it now.

It’s evident that baking and cooking is a new trend among the Malaysian youths to keep ourselves productive at home during lockdown. I remember a time when every time I opened my Instagram I’d see my friends baking cookies and cakes, making a smoothie bowl for breakfast, or simply whipping up the dalgona coffee recipe!

Studies have shown that cooking increases one’s happiness and it can act as a treatment for several medical conditions such as depression and anxiety, as you’ll be utilising all 5 of your senses throughout the process. The benefits of cooking your own food are nearly uncountable — increase in familial interaction, a stress reliever, a confidence booster, and of course eating healthier. You might even stumble upon an entrepreneurship opportunity to start your own business!

I’ve always seen cooking as one of the crucial elements to self-reliance. Albeit the advancement of food delivery and the accessibility of convenience stores, being able to cook for yourself is important for students who wish to study abroad. If you’re a beginner like me, it’s always good to start from making your own breakfast. Since I’m an early bird, having an appetising breakfast always sets a good start to my day. If you’re already a ‘teenage chef’ by this point, watch out as I might exceed you one day!

#3. Leadership and communication


It was through the clubs and societies that I’ve participated in here at college — like Taylor’s Lakeside Model United Nations Club — that I gained the courage to define what kind of a leader I wish to become when I’ve the opportunity to be one. Leadership skills are skills that you’ll need to direct other people to achieve a shared goal. Though leadership skills are highly sought after in the workforce, many of the skills can be the key to better performance as a student such as strategic-thinking, decision-making, time and stress management, and self-motivation.  

One of the most invaluable leadership skills is communication. Communication skill is when you’re able to send information across to others accurately and exactly as you've intended. This is vital when you’re delegating tasks to your teammates, conveying your vision for the organisation, or as simple as having a conversation with your friends! Some examples include maintaining eye contact, being assertive instead of aggressive, and being able to make constructive feedback.  

As a Riser and someone who likes to socialise, I often need to approach people of all backgrounds and maintain conversations. I must say I’m not always good at speaking (awkward silence in online meetings are the most painful moments), nor am I a ‘successful leader’, but I believe this is a lifelong art that will continuously offer new wisdom.

Wanna find out more on how college can help you develop your life skills? Join the Taylor’s College Exploration Day happening on 24 July (Saturday) here.

#4. Handling criticism


“Any fool can criticise, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving” ~ Dale Carnegie.

We often hear the phrase that the ‘new generation’ is unable to handle criticism. I’ve to admit that I occasionally fall into the trap of overthinking criticisms, ultimately damaging my own self-esteem and confidence. Though there might be some bitter truth in the criticisms we receive, that doesn’t mean we can’t choose to react calmly and analyse the improvements that we can make in our following attempts. In continuation of practicing self-awareness, it’s always helpful to do self-reflections from time to time so we’re constantly improving ourselves and to also nurture a stronger mentality. To whoever is reading this right now, you definitely have all it takes to perceive constructive feedback as positivity! But if you already know the critic is naturally a critical person, don’t spend too much time on their comments because you should know yourself the best!

#5. Finance and budgeting


I’ve never been someone who wishes to pursue a luxurious life. In contrast, I’m usually content with the amount of resources I have. However, as I enter my college life, I figured budgeting skills and spending habits plays an incredibly huge role in gaining control over your own life, whether you’re a student or an adult. 

Studies have shown that financial literacy in Malaysia is alarmingly low, with “53% of Malaysians cannot survive more than 3 months if they lose their jobs while 46% spend more than they earn”. I’m no expert in managing my own finances, but upon seeing the striking statistics, I’m keen to track the money that I spent on my purchases henceforth as a starter, and make sure I consciously evaluate my needs before making any purchase. It’s also advisable to allocate money in advance to prepare for unprecedented costs or to simply cultivate the habit of saving! Trust me, the moment you could actually spend your saved money on the things that you have been longing to buy, it will be one of the most satisfying moments you’ll ever remember.

The life skills that you wish to acquire might differ from mine and that’s perfectly fine! These are the skills that I think I can improve on to achieve the overarching goal of an independently strong lady. I believe as long as we all constantly strive to improve ourselves, we will be unstoppable.

Emma Chee Luo Yi has recently graduated from her A Levels Programme at Taylor's College. She is also Vice President of Academics in Taylor’s Lakeside Model United Nations club, and the Head of Marketing for TEDxTaylorsUniversity.

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