As a kid I was a huge fan of school. The books, the learning, seeing your friends every single weekday. But slowly as I got older I learned to love it less and less. Not only due to my ever growing love for lie-ins, but due to the content I was taught, or the lack of content. Here are some of the things I feel we should have learned in school to prepare ourselves for the big bad world.
No one is going to hold your hand through life.
Sometimes you’re going to mess up, and you’re not going to get a second chance. You won’t get a reassuring pat on the shoulder, a pitiful look and a “better luck next time”, you’re going to get penalized for it. Just remember making mistakes is about as human as breathing, so don’t beat yourself up about it, no matter how much someone tells you to.
Okay so they may talk about the afterlife, they did with my school, but as I went to a Christian school, my ideas didn’t match up with theirs. But even aside from the afterlife part, they don’t tell you how to deal when someone close to you dies. I realize a loss of someone you love is subjective to the person, but you have absolutely no preparation for the utter gut wrenching pain you feel,and the horrific realization that sooner or later, you will die too.
The world is a scary place.
Of course you’ll be told not to talk to strangers, and to not get into anyone’s car who you don’t know. But what about the people that you do know? Your uncle, your neighbor, the local postman or the lady with the cute dog who passes your house every day. These people you know, see and trust, but aren’t over half of homicides and kidnappings committed by people you actually know? So how do you protect yourself then? Because your teachers certainly aren’t going to tell you.
Getting your heart broken.
This might be when you’re 21 and think you found your first and only love, or when you’re 7 and your parents decide to divorce. Either way, you won’t have prepared to deal with this in anyway, because there is no Heartbreak 101 with modules specializing in ‘How to get Over Them’ or ‘What to do When you see them with Someone Else’.
Sexuality and Gender.
If you’re school was really progressive you might have learnt that some kids will have two mums or two dads, and that there’s this weird entity known as bisexual. But pansexuality, asexuality and pretty much any sexuality that isn’t heavily ingrained into society’s norms, you’ll have to hear about it via other means. Same goes for gender, you’ll be taught there are only two (maybe three) genders. Female, male and possibly transgender. But how about genderqueer? Genderneutral? You won’t be taught these because it’s seen as a taboo subject. But it’s important to know that some people have a preference in personal pronouns, and that assuming someone’s gender can be offensive.
That’s the technical term. You’ll be shown how to put condoms onto bananas, and graphic photos of various sexually transmitted diseases. But they’ll leave out the location of the male G-spot, how good cunnilingus can feel, that rimming is okay and the normal etiquette of a one night stand. Hell, it wasn’t so long ago that people were denying the existence of the clitoris. Oh and masturbation shall only be talked about in hushed reverent tones between friends amidst fits of giggles and snorts of disgust.
You won’t always win.
Sometimes when you apply for a job you’re perfect for, and have a wonderful interview with the boss, you won’t get the job. In life, there are always people that are going to be better than you at certain things. Doesn’t mean you didn’t deserve it, and it doesn’t make the person who got the job a better person than you. Sometimes the person you’ve fallen for has chosen someone else over you. Don’t let it break you.
Generic daily adulty things.
I feel like school should have had genuine life lessons. When I left school I had no idea about taxes, national insurance, jury duty or even how to turn on a washing machine. If you’re lucky, your parents or guardians would have taught you, but these things rarely come up until you leave home. By then we’re often too stubborn to admit we don’t know how to do such trivial tasks.
Wanting other things than we’re supposed to.
There will always be talk of starting your own family, settling down and getting married. Oh and that ambitious career of yours. But when I realized I didn’t want any of this, I got scared. No one told me it was okay to not desire any of it, or that there were others like me. All I wanted was a puppy and to be able to afford a roof over my head and an extensive amount of books. Possibly a wonderful polyamorous lifestyle. I guess you just need to rely on yourself for this one, have faith that there’s more to life than what you already know.
I feel that this one should be heavily underlined. It’s so important. It’s important that we know that some of us are going to suffer. There might be a girl who gets so thin she gets hospitalized, a boy with self inflicted scars. Then there will be the less visual but equally severe mental health issues. School will never teach you the whole host of acronyms such as PTSD, BPD and ADD. But they’re all real. As real as cancer. We might go through life feeling these terrifying things and not being able to realize that we can get help or that we can even talk to people about it. Mental health has a social stigma, and the earlier it can be tackled, the quicker it can be eviscerated.