You can now take university-level coursework in “adulting.” These classes aim to teach practical life skills (no shade, 18th century Brit lit) such as budgeting, resume building, and online dating. They’re touted as one-stop-shops for covering everything you need to know about being a high-functioning adult with a great job, a high credit score, and a fulfilling social life.
Adulting classes are based on the premise, however, that millennials and Gen Zs lack basic life skills and that other generations have those skills and can teach them. Let’s deconstruct this theory: I can assume that the young people I’m talking to will understand what “deconstructing an argument” means because you are the most educated generation to date. That’s right, every other generation, millennials know all the big words, too.
This brings me to my first point, which is that, actually, millennials are straight killing it when it comes to basic life skills. They apparently have less credit card debt than Gen X (although they are more stressed out about it). Some suggest that that's because their cynical Gen X elders are a bit neurotic and domineering — just an idea. Millennials also have been reported to have the happiest relationships.
If millennials are happier, better educated, and in less consumer debt than the rest of us, why do they need to be taught practical life skills? They don’t. And we probably can’t teach them anyway. Could the whole adulting industry be marketing scheme designed to make younger folks feel like older folks have secrets to life that can be bought and sold in the marketplace?
Truth be told, no one has those secrets and a class can’t teach you life skills because they take place in controlled environments and life does not. So even if you learn, say, the four sacred steps to attaining relationship perfection in the Adulting 101 Lab, they may not/probably won’t work when you take them to the streets.
I’d go a step further and argue that no one knows what they’re doing. No human of any generation made it to adulthood without a reasonable amount of fucking up. If they are navigating the world with relative ease now, they did it by making mistakes along the way. The knowledge that other generations have now and millennials maybe don’t have yet? That knowledge comes free with life, not for a thousand dollars a credit.
Of course, you might be able to save time with a few adulting life hacks, but again, humans learn by making mistakes. Case in point: I dropped out of four high schools and three community colleges and went on to graduate from an Ivy League University magna cum laude. Now I own my own home in a bohemian paradise and have my location-independent dream job so I can travel in my vintage camper, with my cats, whenever I feel like it.
I also have $180k in student loan debt that I will never be able to repay, I don’t have health insurance, and I haven’t had sex in two months, so don’t follow me.
Underlying the whole idea of adulting school is the condescending assumption that one generation is better at being grown up than another. I call bullshit. Every generation makes its own special blend of mistakes. Some generational missteps are arguably more heinous than others. But by all counts, millennials and Gen Zs are doing fine. Sure they’re making some mistakes, but they’re also dedicated to learning from them, which is worth more than 10 years of Ivy League tuition.