Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven!—Oh! times,
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once
The attraction of a country in romance!”
— William Wordsworth
It’s a fine time to be young. Often we tell ourselves that the youth are wasting their time doing nothing of use like playing video games or lounging around watching Netflix. But that’s simply not the truth. The youth community is thriving. They grow out of the product of their role models, adults. And when you ask some parents what kind of cool things their children are doing, the best answers come out when children find their own hobbies. What I have here are strategies to help ease the youth into doing their own thing. It’s more of a template of what you could do rather than what you should do. It’s a choose- your-own adventure type advice that goes anywhere your interests lie.
I’m starting to ready Clay Shirky’s book, “Cognitive Surplus,” which delves into how it’s not technology we should blame for our social problems, but rather how we interact with and use the technology. During prohibition, it wasn’t the alcohol that was the big issue, but rather our interaction with it. We, as adults, take on the lazy youth issue as a problem with technology, such as the Internet and television, that their mere presence is bad. But, from what we have gathered before, that isn’t true at all.
And kids have it awesome these days. I wanted to pursue more things as an adolescence. I self-taught myself a few things, but I lacked some guidance on how to really go about learning something new. It would have helped to have an adult talk to me about how they learned to do something, or at least how they attempted to do something. Growing up, my dad knew all these things about home and car repair, and I wanted to take that knowledge from him without asking how to do any of those things. Of course, I did sit around and watch him at work, but it wasn’t the same without his input. And as a result, I never knew why you use certain joints for wood, what the carburetor does, and how to drive stick (though in truth, my dad doesn’t want to be anywhere near a manual shift car because he loves automatics, so there is no point in asking him).
My sister, reaching the peak of her teenage years asked me to share some of my knowledge of how to go about doing things. I wrote a lengthy essay-formed response to her explaining how I would go about doing projects. The point of projects is you have to enjoy it and you don’t care where it leads. If those requirements aren’t met, it probably wasn’t worth doing the project in the first place. This idea of projects isn’t new to me, and it’s familiar with those who have read Cal Newport’s book, “How To Be A High School Superstar.”
Here’s an excerpt of what I sent my sister.
Apprenticeships used to be the way of learning the essential skills of how to be a master at any field. You’d be passed down to a mentor who can show you these skills, for example blacksmithing, and how the art and craft of creating a tool involves precision and hand-eye coordination. There’s the foundation steps to creating any tool that is taught by these mentors before one understands how any tool can be manufactured.
— Robert Greene
How does it apply to you? Well, first off, it’s the foundation steps in learning anything. You start to realize your potential in learning a topic of your choice, and if you fall out of interest with it, it doesn’t mean the end all be all because hundreds if not thousands have also been though the struggle where only a few make it. When searching to acquire skills to make you more presentable for college recruiters, you must understand how hard it is to grasp something as hard as whatever you want to attain. Also, college is a way to further pursuits you have rather than to blindly follow what other are doing because it’s the ‘hot’ thing to do. Really focus on what you like and know there’s an uphill battle wherever that takes you.”
The email was directed towards her struggles to stand out from the crowd. There’s an issue with getting into college as a teenager today, but that’s a completely different topic that I may dwell on in the future.
Thanks for reading my rant. If you have any counter arguments, or any supportive evidence, please comment below.
Originally published on my Craft By Zen blog.