Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

31 Mar 2007, 23:39 p.m.

The Three Skills of Adulthood

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2007 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Now, I foist upon you an extended excerpt from Rachel Chalmers's "I follow my nose":

...It occurs to me that all the really important decisions of my life - who to marry, where to work, when to sprog - were made on the basis of my gut. I think there are three sets of skills necessary to modern adulthood. The first is mastering administrivia; taxes, visas, passports, job applications, budgets, credit card bills, doctor's appointments, admission forms, financial aid. A second and quite closely related skill-set concerns your performance. These skills involve figuring out what's expected of you and serving it up, ideally with a twist that no one would have thought of but you. Bedrock director Jimmy Fay summed it up as "Say your lines and hit your marks." Haim Ginott's variation is my oft-cited parenting mantra: "Don't just do something; stand there."

Gut feelings fall into a third, seldom-used group of skills. For me, the only way not to get paralysed by the sheer earth-shatteringness of big decisions is to make them behind my own back, as it were, or in some other form of massive denial. Jeremy and I have long described our relationship as "the one night stand that went horribly wrong." We pretended we were only moving to California for a year or two....