by Daniel A. Kaufman
My “Twenty-Five Things Everyone Used to Understand” was a minor hit, so here are twenty-five things young people used to understand. The point is to catalogue what would have been the common understanding among most young people of my era (the 1970’s and 80’s) regarding the realities of life; things that seem no longer to comprise the common wisdom of today’s youth. The point is not to debate the merits of these facts of life, but simply to observe how much has changed in the last few decades.
 Your early jobs are supposed to suck and pay terribly.
 Your first apartments/places are supposed to be shitholes.
 If you want a meaningful and well-paying career, you have to work your ass off, and you still may not get it, and it may be no one’s fault.
 No one has a right to live in a big city. You have to pay for it. With money.
 People with more money and greater position have more of a say on things (and have nicer stuff) than people with less.
 Whether you like it or not, adults/older people are in charge, and it’s better to circumvent them through trickery and subterfuge than to confront them.
 Baiting or otherwise provoking people stronger than you is stupid.
 No one has any interest in your personal ideations or views on things, other than your family and friends. (And even they might not.)
 There is no right to be listened to, respected, celebrated, validated, “centered,” spoken about in the manner you prefer, or any other such thing. If you are lucky and socially adept or bring something special to the table, some of these things might happen to you. But they still may not.
 There are any number of things that one just does, because they are what one does. You can refuse, but you should also expect to pay a price (and often a steep one).
 A university is an institution you pay to provide you with an education and a degree. It’s not your house or a place whose purpose is to make you feel like you’re in your house.
 The point of fraternities and sororities is to socialize with girls/guys and to get drunk.
 When you are engaged in delinquency of one kind or another, you’re supposed to keep it a secret, as the aim is to get away with it.
 Adults’ patience with youthful hijinks is very limited.
 Teenagers do not want the attention of adults.
 Adults who are not your parents or involved with you in some other special capacity, have no real interest in or regard for you, and you should be glad about it. [See 15]
 Teenage dramas are only meant to played out in the company of other teenagers.
 Teenage goings-on are more important to teenagers than the activities of adults.
 You will be rejected romantically, and you will romantically reject others. This cannot be avoided, and falling apart over it just makes you seem desperate and pathetic.
 Brandishing your failures and weaknesses and disorders will do nothing but invite contempt from others, though they may lie to you about it.
 If you don’t have anything yet, there’s nothing for you to “give back.”
 Businesses exist to make money.
 Only dorks walk around pushing buttons on little electronic devices all day.
 Young people – at least those not suffering serious illness – are naturally energetic, not perpetually “exhausted.”
 It matters what you look like and how you present yourself.