Fitness

Career chatter trumps real conversation?

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My son and his friends (in Class XII now) have a good laugh at the standard verbiage around stress — whether I bring it up or his teachers at school do.

The problem is that as adults who have a vague idea about mental health (student suicide), we stick to a single script, or maybe pick from a couple.

Most of these ‘discussions’ are us sitting at the edge of our seats (while appearing relaxed), talking about what’s going on in school, hoping we’ll find nuggets of information in what they tell us. Or worse, we ‘offer advice’: we’d call it a form of ‘counselling’; they’d call it a lecture.

Our children of course are way smarter than we are, chatting on social-media platforms that we use only cursorily, having relationships that we have no name for, all the while telling us just a part of the story. We cannot enter their world, and they would rather not come down to ours. This is, of course, a classic generation gap.

Two women are looking at a laptop. The younger woman is sitting down on a chair while the other is standing up, looking over her shoulder. They are outdoors, and two cups of coffee are on the table. The laptop and the cups are white.

Two women are looking at a laptop. The younger woman is sitting down on a chair while the other is standing up, looking over her shoulder. They are outdoors, and two cups of coffee are on the table. The laptop and the cups are white.  

What’s different now is that we are conscious of it, but hope to bridge it with ‘discussion’, where we’re talking more than listening. Feelings and emotions are something we’re not really in touch with ourselves, but we feel much less out of our depth when it comes to talking careers. Most of us are quite clueless about the careers of the present and future, but the smug confidence that age and Excel sheets give us propels us on.

Even the most liberal parent will know how to ‘make an entry’ into the career chat — the older-child version of ‘So what do you want to be when you grow up?’ But she’ll have no clue on how to enter the ‘Are you doing okay?’ conversation.

The result — most of senior school is centred on ‘What next?’ The rest of life, we just hope, will fall into place somehow if this one thing is sorted.

There’s such great emphasis on the future, on doing, moving, multi-tasking, thinking ahead, that we forget to stop and see the signs of being not-okay.

That’s because we’ve lost touch with doing simple things like taking a walk and enjoying the silence with our children, without the need to say something or perform some task in order to have an outcome.

When was the last time you did that? I can’t remember either.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 8:18:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fitness/career-chatter-trumps-real-conversation/article29431409.ece

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