Adulting Classes Are Actually A Great Idea, Because It’s OK If You Don’t Know How To Do Everything
It's a hard knock life, and there are many things you don't learn in school about how to be an adult. That's why "adulting classes" are now a thing — but although there have been a few negative reactions to them, I'd argue that they're not necessarily signaling the end of society as we know it. The bottom line is that it's OK not to know how to do everything — and there's no shame in asking for help so you can learn how to do the things you don't know.
Back towards the end of 2016, an "adulting" school in Maine made waves across the internet — but since the issue of not necessarily knowing how to do everything a grownup is expected to know how to do is not a unique, adulting classes are now trending. They've spread to the West Coast, too: News station KGW reports that a public library in North Bend, Ore., is offering "Adulting 101: Basic How-Tos for Ages 16-25," with topics ranging from personal finance and job hunting to cooking and handy work.
"When you see 10 people feeling like they're the only one, and they're all struggling with the same thing, you think, let's get these people together so they can learn this stuff and not feel so isolated and ashamed," Rachel Weinstein, a psychotherapist who cofounded a group that hosts adulting classes in Portland, Maine, told NPR in February.
Think back to everything you learned in school that you never used again. For me it's solving for X, and — let's be honest — most math in general. Solving for X didn't teach me how to invest, or even unclog a toilet. And, who, I ask you, actually knows how to fold a fitted sheet? Geometry didn't help me with that. Honestly, I just jumble it up into a ball, and bam, I'm done!
When I questioned the endless math I struggled to learn in school, I was told that math helps people think critically and solve problems. Well, I am terrible at algebra, but I don't think it's up for debate that I am an excellent problem solver (really, ask anyone). Could all of that time I spent crying at the kitchen table desperately trying to understand how to solve for X have been better spent learning something I would actually rely on later in life?
It's easy to feel isolated and ashamed when it's pointed out to you that "everyone else knows how to fold a fitted sheet." But I'm here to tell you that that's not true — not everyone knows how to fold a fitted sheet. And what's more, there's nothing wrong with not knowing how to do certain things. A great majority of us may enter adulthood without even knowing how to balance a checkbook, because it's 2017 and you probably only use a maximum of 12 checks a year. My checks are from two addresses ago — that's how infrequently I write checks. Meanwhile, most of the people bagging on Millennials were raised in a completely different era where they would not have encountered the problems faced by the current generation, like — if we're sticking with the checkbook scenario — navigating online banking.
Are you with me yet? In general, despite being innovative, passionate, socially conscious, and tech savvy, Millennials are often criticized for being lazy and clueless — but it simply isn't true. After all, we didn't create this world; we're just living in it. Millennials, who were raised radically different with more technology than any previous generation, actually learn differently, too. When we ask for help, we're not asking someone else to do something for us; we genuinely want to learn how to accomplish said task, because we know it's a valuable skill for us to have.
Many of those belonging America's largest generation since the Baby Boomers most likely doesn't know how to perform some of 20 basic skills that are in danger of becoming extinct, a lot of which has to do with the fact that we grew up in a world where technology takes care of a lot of simple, day-to-day tasks — things like recalling a phone number from memory. For example, while I can tell you my very first phone number from when I was 5, I couldn't tell you my mom's current phone number if a million dollars were on the line. Or think things like being able to use a compass or read a paper map. I don't know how to do this, and honestly I don't know how anyone got around in Los Angeles before GPS. But I'd like to learn how, because I know it would be useful to know.
Millennials like to try new ways of doing things. The idea of "that's how we've always done it" simply doesn't fly with us. We want what we learn to be relevant (unlike solving for X), and we're more relaxed, which means we're more likely to question the validity of how things are done. Unfortunately, though, most schools haven't cottoned on to this. While we're busy learning about the French Revolution (which, don't get me wrong, is definitely important), we're not learning how to function in life once we enter the "real world" because these days our smartphones and computers can pretty much do everything for us.
There actually was an elective class at my high school that I took called Consumer Skills. We learned important things like how to balance a checkbook, how to make a resume, and basic budgeting. This class was a lifesaver for me, and I actually got my first job in high school (at Little Caesars) because I was the only candidate who submitted a resume. In my opinion, classes like this should be part of the basic curriculum. Since they're not, the new adulting classes are here to help you learn things you should have learned in school but were never taught. The classes are most popular with Millennial women.
"In job interviews, they're always asking 'Where do you want to see yourself in five years?' " Lindsay Rowe Scala, 32, told NPR. "And I never know how to answer that because I'm always thinking on how to survive today and next week, and what's coming up."
Many Millennials are in survival mode because most of us graduate college with more than $28,000 in debt, which we're not taught how to manage. So it's understandable why things like how to cook a turkey, or how to fold that dreaded fitted sheet become less important than how the crap am I going to pay off these student loans, and still afford my Ramen noodles this week.
Life is hard enough without being shamed for not knowing how to do everything in life. So, go ahead and enroll in an adulting class. Some classes are even available online. I personally think "adults" have been faking it for decades. I still have yet to meet an actual grown up who has life all figured out. Some people have nicer cars, or better fitness habits, but they're still learning just like you and me.
Does anyone ever really feel grown up? I am in my 30s and most days I feel like a 16-year-old. And, that's OK. Denying that we need help is the problem. Asking for it is not. After all, the goal is progress, not perfection, right?