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Opinion | How High School Ruined Leisure - The New York Times
"Summer is coming.

The season for school sports and activities is ending. For most high school seniors, it’s not just the season — it is, in some weird sense, their “career.” As a hockey, soccer, lacrosse player. A violinist, a debater, a singer in the a cappella choir. Unless they have professional aspirations or college commitments, whatever they’ve done outside of school — and for many kids, that thing has become a core piece of their identities — is shifting into a different gear.

It’s no longer going to help get them into college. They won’t step up to a better chair or make varsity. The conveyor belt of achievement has reached its end.

Now all that remains are the kinds of questions everyone comes to eventually: Do you still do your thing — whatever your thing is — when no one is watching? What do you do when it doesn’t matter any more?

“I’ve recently had to come to the realization that I won’t have a next year to prepare for as a member of this team,” said Sawyer Michaelson, a tennis player and senior at Southwest High School in Minneapolis. “This is the first time I haven’t had a future to look forward to. I hope to play tennis in college, but things aren’t set in stone like they were for me in high school.” This, he said, is “unnerving.”

“This is a real moment for a lot of kids,” said Christine VanDeVelde, an author of “College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.” “For some, who’ve had adults guide them all their lives, they don’t know what they want or what they like or what motivates them. For others, who’ve been competent or successful at a lot of things, it can be hard to know which one sustains them.”

In many ways, that challenge is amped up by the rigorous approach teenagers are encouraged to take to what used to be seen as hobbies, done outside of school and on a student’s own time. (Thus the term “extracurriculars.”) As the sports and activities kids once did “just for fun” sometimes led to prestigious academic opportunities, the grown-ups caught on and took over, and everything from baseball to math modeling was commercialized and turned into a means to an end.

The message was clear: These activities were important. What they weren’t was optional, at least beyond the initial decision to sign up. The season was mapped out, the schedule on the fridge.

It’s that structure that makes this shift more than just a standard rite of passage for new graduates. Teachers, coaches and parents strive to give students the best experiences in competing, performing or creating, but the more professionalized the process becomes, the more difficult it can be to return to an amateur approach. When your artwork has been given the gallery treatment and your entry into the final game was marked by fireworks and a sound system worthy of the Super Bowl, painting for yourself or playing a pickup game in the park might feel pointless.

Add in the college admission process, and even the most passionate teenagers say they feel as if things have reached an end rather than a turning point.

“There is definitely this sense that you are putting work into activities so you can get some sort of payback — admission to a top college — and afterward, your work is done,” said Ella Biehn, a senior and a songwriter and guitarist at DeKalb School of the Arts near Atlanta. She plans to keep performing in college, majoring in vocal music, and yet, “In a lot of cases I feel like a spent battery.”

Ironically, in placing so much value on activities that our children came to out of love or interest, we grown-ups replaced the intrinsic motivations we often claim to value with extrinsic ones. When you’ve been taught that every action has a purpose, it’s harder to find meaning in just doing something you enjoy, and much more difficult to persuade yourself to do it.

And so, with an anticlimactic awards ceremony and a round of applause and tears, we welcome our former student athletes and artists into the real world, where art and sport beckon alluringly in other people’s Instagram feeds, but leisure itself — the act of engaging in something merely because we enjoy it — is not much valued. The opportunities are there, but the will to take advantage of them, to make choices for reasons other than profit or productivity, has to be yours.

Maybe this is the most important lesson our new graduates can learn. “This is part of the human experience,” said Susan Avery, a college counselor at Harvest Collegiate High School in Manhattan. “These kids have spent 17 years listening to adults. Now they have to learn to listen to themselves.”

Ms. Avery’s daughter, a dedicated pre-med student who never pursued the arts in high school, signed up for theater club for fun at a freshman fair in college and will soon be graduating as a theater major. “When she first mentioned it, I was like, ‘Do it!’” Ms. Avery said. “‘I like it, I want to try it’ — that’s a good reason.”

The secret of adulthood, the one those high school seniors don’t know but soon will, is that there are some questions we never really resolve. Do you still do your thing — whatever your thing is — when no one is watching? Both the magic of that question and its existential angst lie in the freedom it presents. Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t.

It really only matters — really only has to matter — to you."
highschool  unschooling  deschooling  schooliness  education  parenting  kjdell’antonia  sports  leisure  artleisure  leisurearts  colleges  universities  admissions  performance  performative  music  art  arts  experience  life  living  adulthood  purpose  fun  play  freedom 
june 2019 by robertogreco
BBC - Future - The transformational power of how you talk about your life
How you talk about the major events of your life has a profound impact on your personality. If you change your life story, could you become a healthier, happier person?
Psychology  narrative  childhood  adulthood 
may 2019 by deejbah
The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting - The New York Times
""On the one hand, I love my work,” she said. “But the way it’s structured in this country, where there’s not really child care and there’s this sense that something is wrong with you if you aren’t with your children every second when you’re not at work? It isn’t what I think feminists thought they were signing up for.”
parenting  motherhood  parenthood  father  mother  trends  developmentalpsychology  devpsych  development  childdevelopment  fatherhood  socialisation  childhood  childwelfare  adulthood  psychology  class  children  society  American  poverty  america  mothers  analysis  times  news  culture  socialization  fathers 
may 2019 by iaskedalice09
When Do You Become an Adult? - The Atlantic
Adulthood is a social construct. For that matter, so is childhood. But like all social constructs, they have real consequences. They determine who is legally responsible for their actions and who is not, what roles people are allowed to assume in society, how people view each other, and how they view themselves. But even in the realms where it should be easiest to define the difference—law, physical development—adulthood defies simplicity.

At about age 22 or 23, the brain is pretty ...
adulthood  culture  opinion  atlantic 
may 2019 by bigpicbruh
Being 30 and single isn't bad luck, it's a global marriage problem — Quartz
Formal marriage isn’t the only structure in which to have a family, and people are certainly experimenting with other ways to progress to the next stage of life, including not having children, or having and raising them in less traditional contexts.
sociology  adulthood  society  socialanthropology 
november 2018 by toastednut
Why Narcissistic Parents Treat their Children Like Babies | Psychology Today Australia
parents who are high in narcissism. They need their children to stay dependent on them long past the childhood days are over so that they can continue to feel important in their lives.
psychology  narcissism  children  parenting  research  adulthood 
october 2018 by esm
freckle heaux on Twitter: "Does nobody realize how unnatural the 40 hr or more work week is? How it is ridiculous to expect people to continuously work even when they’re past the point of exhaustion? Maybe adulthood itself isn’t tiring, but we’ve be
“Does nobody realize how unnatural the 40 hr or more work week is? How it is ridiculous to expect people to continuously work even when they’re past the point of exhaustion?

“Maybe adulthood itself isn’t tiring, but we’ve been conditioned to think that because capitalism is.”
capitalism  adulthood  2018 
august 2018 by handcoding

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