Dear Well-intended Adult:
I don’t know how long it’s been since you were a kid, or a young adult, or a human with the painful awareness that your life is imperfect.
If this was forwarded to you, I’m guessing it’s been a while since the thought of an approaching holiday like Thanksgiving sent a chill up your spine, or made your stomach lurch, or made you pray you’d miss your flight home.
Maybe you’re surprised to hear that a holiday could provoke such a negative, visceral reaction in anyone.
As a shrink in her third decade of practice, I can confirm with authority that dreading the holiday season is something of a universal, young adult experience.
In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my office is bursting with 20-somethings and 30-somethings who are flooded with anxiety at the thought of facing loved ones.
It’s not that they don’t love you. They adore you. They just dread talking to you.
Actually, it’s not talking to you that they abhor so much as the insensitive cross-examination, I mean, the questions that they find themselves on the receiving end of.
Questions which, no doubt, are intended to help you get to know these young people better.
The problem is, the questions you tend to ask suck.
They really don’t spawn deep insights into the Millennials in your life.
But the answers to your questions, now those leave the kids feeling naked at the table.
Naked in need of a wax. And a workout.
Their answers underscore where they rank on the Young Adult To Do List.
The Young Adult To Do List is more conceptual than it is real.
Even so, everyone knows what’s on it:
● Graduate high school.
● Go to college.
● Pick a lucrative, employable major.
● Begin a serious, heterosexual relationship.
● Be offered a job before graduating or within a month or two of graduating.
● Become self-reliant (read: stop taking money from your parents) the moment you begin working.
● Work your ass off at your job. Also, remain in that long-term, heterosexual relationship.
● Get promoted. A lot.
● Get engaged.
● Get married.
● Make babies.
The achievements on this list are sequential. If you achieve any of them in a different order, they count against you.
Also, while you’re busily crossing off the above-referenced successes, you’re expected not to wind up in jail, on drugs, in debt, or in trouble.
All of this is to say that Millennials approach the Thanksgiving dinner table with the same level of enthusiasm that a dog who’s being led to a poop accident feels.
Every year I write a list of SAY THIS INSTEAD OF THAT’s, hoping you’ll read it.
This year I’m feeling a little snarky, a little sassy, so I’ve decided to provide you with an incomplete list of Douchebag Questions, which, if asked, will make the young people at your table feel less-than, not good enough, and generally, really shitty.
“How’d you do this semester?”
“Are you still struggling in school?”
“Did you pick a major?”
“So, you dating anyone special?”
“Why are you still single?”
“When are you two getting married?”
“What are your plans after graduation?”
“How many years have you been in college?”
“You’re transferring again?”
“How’s the job hunt going?”
“What’s your Plan-B?”
“Did you hear that [insert high school friend’s name here] got engaged/married/promoted?”
“You’re still not eating meat?”
“If you’re both happy, why aren’t you getting married?”
“Did you get a job yet?”
TO FEMALES: “Are you still dating girls?”
TO MALES: “Are you still dating guys?”
Other questions/comments that annoy people:
“Why are you on your phone?”
“Honey, have the rice instead of the stuffing.”
“Are you sure you want more pie?”
“You know that you’re going to have that tattoo for life, right?”
“Is that all you’re eating?”
“When’s the last time you went to church/temple/the gym?”
“Have you lost weight?”
“Are you sleeping enough?”
“Did you gain weight?”
“It’s not easy to find a job when you’re a dance / English / communications / history major.”
“This year, I’m thankful that we held on to the Senate.”
“Why does your hair/makeup/clothing/ass look like that?”
“I have someone amazing to set you up with. Have you ever been on a blind date?”
“Is that what you’re wearing tonight?”
“I can’t even imagine coming out of school with the student loans you must have.”
❤️ Wishing you and yours the happiest Thanksgiving ❤️