Well, hello there, fellow survivors! I’m coming to you live (okay, not really live, but let’s pretend) to chat about some key skills we all need to make it through everyday life. I like to call myself an expert, but honestly, most days I’m just barely getting by too! But maybe that makes me MORE qualified to talk about survival skills—I mean, who knows the struggle better than those living it, am I right?
So we all know those stereotypical “survival skills” like building a shelter or starting a fire. And yeah, I guess those could come in handy if we ever found ourselves stranded in the wilderness being chased by a bear. But personally, my wilderness is more of the urban jungle variety, filled with endless traffic jams and grumpy customers at the coffee shop. The kinds of survival skills I need are more about keeping my sanity intact as I navigate this fast-paced, chaotic world we live in.
And let me tell you, it hasn’t always been pretty. There have been PLENTY of meltdowns over the years from yours truly. Like the Great Laundry Debacle of 2019 when I shrunk my favorite work pants and ended up having to wear leggings to the office for two weeks straight until I bought new ones. Or the time last year when I slept through four—FOUR—alarms and was almost an hour late to work. My boss still gives me side-eye when I walk in late, convinced I just overslept again. Hey, at least I keep things interesting around the office!
But in all seriousness, I’ve picked up some hard-won skills along the way that have helped me not just survive, but actually thrive in everyday life. First up: organization and time management. I know, I know—fun, sexy skills, right? But hear me out. After one too many frantic mornings searching for my keys right as I was about to walk out the door (followed immediately by the panicked “Wait, do I even have my LAPTOP?!”), I finally got my act together.
These days I prep like I’m heading out on an Antarctic expedition every night before work. Lunch packed, clothes laid out, bag loaded with laptop, chargers, gym stuff. Voila! No more morning madness. I even (mostly) stick to routines so I stay on track day-to-day. I’ll admit, I used to think schedules were for boring people. But now? Boring equals SANE. I’ll take it!
Another big one—stress management. Easy to ignore, vital to practice. After the infamous Coffee Shop Breakdown of 2020 when the barista got my complicated order wrong for the third day in a row, prompting an, ahem, less than polite reaction from me, I realized keeping my cool under pressure needed some work. Now I make it a point to squeeze in little mindfulness exercises whenever I can. Just 60 seconds of deep breathing or a quick meditation in the car before work can make a big difference!
And let’s not forget the importance of self-care. That one took me an embarrassingly long time to learn. For years I wore busyness like a badge of honor, convinced hunkering down and just pushing through exhaustion was noble somehow. All it really did was make me less patient with others, though—like the poor customer service agent who bore the brunt of my unrestrained irritation after a delayed flight last year. These days I actually use my vacation time and try not to work weekends. I know, what a concept!
I still have the occasional hiccup (for example, just last week I definitely grabbed a green sweater out of my drawer thinking it was black only to end up looking like an overgrown elf at that industry networking happy hour). But implementing little habits like organization tricks, mindfulness, and taking time for myself has worked wonders. I still have to remind myself, but honestly? The more I master these “life skills,” the more I’m able to roll with the punches and survive–no, THRIVE–in this fast-paced modern jungle!
Now time for a disclaimer: I am definitely NOT saying I have this whole “everyday survival” thing 100% figured out. Like I said earlier, most days I’m still scraping by too! But focusing on picking up practical habits has helped me stress LESS and smile MORE as I navigate work, relationships, and this thing called life. So maybe we should all give ourselves permission to be perfectly imperfect as we find those small skills that will help us not only tackle the wilderness, but enjoy the journey too!