What do you do if you are a “millennial” and don’t know how to function as a self-sufficient human being? A new survey estimates there are 20 basic skills that are in danger of being lost to humanity because the younger generation does not know how to perform them.
One millennial confesses:
I have just turned 36 and still can’t drive, and though I often contemplate learning, it’s these wooden sticks that make me think it’s too late. If only I’d listened to my mum when I was still young and narrow enough.
The summer before I went to college, I was at the kitchen table telling my mum about friends’ upcoming gap years, their plans to find themselves and learn how to dig wells in Africa. They’d be better off learning how to wire a plug, she snorted (she’ll prefer “suggested”) or, pointedly, drive a car.
She had an idea, right there over our eggs – the alternative gap-year experience. She and a friend would run sessions teaching room painting, chicken roasting, savings accounts, engine maintenance. I rolled my eyes (I’d prefer “engaged thoughtfully”), but lo, it’s happened. In Portland, a teacher and psychotherapist have opened The Adulting School.
And so a new school was born to teach human beings the basic skills that so many before them managed to master without a special school.
The Adulting School’s first official session took place last week. During their early presentation, on time management, a number of 26-year-old attendees trickled in late. Reports from the summit make it sound not unlike an office party for dogs – participants waggily sniffing each other, being told when and where to sit. They’d been sent by their parents. There were cupcakes in the afternoon.
Why aren’t their parents, the ones who sent them to school to be a grownup, teaching them these skills or some of these skills? We have an entire generation of emotional and commonsense cripples.
But it’s almost too easy to dismiss them, these young people with their shy arrogance and need for congratulations. Almost too easy to go up very close and look in their spectacled eyes and say: “There are no medals for being a person, child,” or to peruse their hashtags as you wait for your soup to simmer and quickly write off a whole generation Because while their parents had fairly linear paths to adulthood – secure jobs, affordable homes in which to raise children, a pension even, a shed – the millennials who dabble in adulting have no similar scripts to follow, and find themselves stranded on the hard shoulder of life, wondering how to act their age.
What a load of garbage. Perhaps these adultchildren don’t have high-paying jobs handed them on a silver platter when they leave college, but is that any excuse not to learn how to do your laundry? Mow the lawn? Cook a meal? Balance a budget? I guess it is:
The answer, according to the Adulting School, is to learn how to set up a savings account, how to turn up on time and how to meditate. As well as my mum’s ideas – including how to make a bed and clean a kitchen – I would add a few more lessons. Mainly because if I helped with the admin, I’d get a free seat.
And the lists of things these adultchildren need to be taught goes on and on.
How to stop “awkwardness”, perhaps. Or at least, how to avoid awkwardness defining you. How to mask shyness – this is not appropriate in your 20s. How to risk a relationship, how to commit to the possibility of intimacy and heartbreak. How to break up. How to talk to your parents. How to ask questions. How to read a newspaper. How to deal with death. How to sing in public, and look after a pet, and shrug off all embarrassment about the music you like, the food you eat and the people you fancy.
This is just pathetic. These are all parts of life we learn about as we live. It seems there is a generation of people who do not learn through experience because they do not have experiences with human beings and reality, only with cell phones and virtual people on social media. Perhaps this new school should be lauded for trying to teach these folks essential life skills but I can’t help but ask, what the hell went wrong?