I love you, “real world,” but you’re bringing me down.
In a bit over a week, many of us will be sitting in folding chairs, sweating profusely in the priest-like dresses and weird hats that have somehow become tradition, while our families proudly fan their faces with the programs in which my last name will most likely be spelled wrong.
We will then cross the threshold into what has somehow been given the strange term, “the real world,” where we will suddenly become “real people.”
To that I simultaneously say, “what the hell” and “fuck that.” Graduating into the “real world”? Becoming “real people”? So, college and everything before it is fake? We don’t exist until we cross that stage?
This divide — the huge contrast between college life and post-college life — is detrimental. Not that I’m fully confident in my post-collegiate life by any means, but how I think about it, when I graduate, I’ll just be a whole lot more educated and grown up than I was four years ago. This is not something “prepping me” for the real world. It’s more just an inevitable learning process, which is bound to happen at some point in our late teens and early 20s, regardless of what path we choose to pursue. Because we go to college, this is where we have worked on developing our set of values.
I’ll be honest — my life for the past four years has consisted of living with my best friends, studying what I am interested in, traveling, picking and selling flowers for money and bumming around on Pacific Coast beaches. Pretty dreamy, for the most part.
But although it may sound and feel like a dream, it was real, and feels more real than ever now at this transitional moment in time called graduation.
Yes, it’s true, we will most likely never live a life that resembles our college years again, ever. Thank god, I say. Because I know that what I will miss I can take with me, and what I won’t miss: schoolwork preventing me from reading books I want to read, from projects I want to complete, from having the true feeling of ultimate freedom, from doing something really damn incredible powered by me alone — well, that I won’t take with me.
For all of us who will be leaving school with a liberal arts degree, a degree that has fallen out of favor with our generation — be proud. Why pursue a narrow path toward one percentagery when one can be prolific and fulfilled using our creativity? For those of you graduating in math or the sciences, more power to you. I am thoroughly impressed. What is most important is that we follow whatever path calls us.
We are faced with many choices daily. There are those we will feel bound in, and those that we make based on passion. Despite what you think, it is important to respect both types, especially the former — because finding a sense of passion within the realm of decisions we must make in our lifetime based on duty and obligation is what is truly liberating.
It is rare to wake up every day and look forward to our labors. But please, please find a way to make this happen, even if it is a struggle. Otherwise, you will find yourself only looking forward to lunch. From what I have observed, life can easily slip into the false sense of comfort that comes with a bleak nine-to-five job. One that separates your passion from your bread maker. This would be the least real way to live.
For those of you who have not graduated yet and have a year or two or three more to go: College is as real as anything. You will graduate and life will change, but it will not become any more real than what you are experiencing right now. Savor reality.
There is no way to fully realize what this collegiate feeling has taught us until it’s behind us. We won’t be able to feel what post-educational bliss is like until we feel it. But it’s definitely a feeling that exists, and what better use of our education than to make the rest of our roaring 20s, and our whole lives, as blissful as we can.
It’s been “real,” class of 2012.