You Are Not Ready For The Real World
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Politics and Activism

You Are Not Ready For The Real World

Sorry, college seniors.

You Are Not Ready For The Real World

It seems like we are always preparing for the future instead of learning in the moment. Our Kindergarten teachers said that one should not talk that much because starting in first grade, that would not be tolerated...but once in first grade, you were quiet because you were scared about what the teacher might do, but it wasn't much different than kinder. Sure, you had less coloring time and there was no more nap time, but it was still pretty cool. In 5th grade, you get constant lectures about things that would not be tolerated in middle-school. Your high school teachers remind that things you were doing everyday would not be tolerated in college. As you walk into your first college class though, your professor says: "ya'll want some milkduds?" Clearly, school gets harder and new things are expected of you as time progresses, but there is no need to be always saying that the present is not good enough because the future will be different. The truth is that the present matters more than the future.

"The Real World" is a common conversation topic in American society. I'm not sure where it originated, and it has been used to describe the "working world" or the period of life when one starts working and providing for oneself independently until death, but we have so many words and phrases in the English language that could replace it. It started as a cute phrase to note the differences and growing responsibilities that come with being independent, making a living, and possibly starting a family of your own, but the phrase is now actually hurting our youth. It especially hurts the 'TENagers' (a rough estimate of teenagers and young adults that fall between the ten-year-period of being 15-25). "The young people of today are so sensitive" you might be thinking... but let me explain what I mean by 'hurting'.

Because childhood has been prolonged in the last century, when it comes to TENagers, there is an increasing rolelessness in society. Children are the future of the country, and are (hopefully) cherished and truly cared for. Once the child starts growing, changing tastes, and becoming more unpredictable, there is no longer a meaningful involvement for them in useful and necessary tasks. There are no opportunities to do socially-necessary work.

Since the abolition of child labor, extension of schooling, and decline in farm work, a "holding" period has become available. This waiting period has become unbearable for some young people because they feel as they have been placed in a cocoon to mature and ready to evolve into a butterfly the day they start their first meaningful job and move away from home. They are deemed useless for the time they are inside the cocoon though, as if living in some fake, bubble of a world. This tension has originated because of our societal structure, and does not abide in the psyche. It has come to be this way because the jobs during this cocoon period bring neither self-pride nor economic independence. The summer jobs available are full of other workers which are the same age, with the boss being the other adult. Two generations ago, when the youth worked in farms, factories, and construction sites, they were surrounded by other adults who showed them why the work they were doing was meaningful as well as offering real advice for what was to come. This type of mentoring has completely disapeared in society.

The biggest problem is that youths are being so slowly integrated into adult society by erasing the physical distance between parents but increasing the emotional distance between all other adults. TENagers used to be able to separate from the adult world and play in the streets, go out in the wild, or frequent the local restaurant away from constant supervision. Today, there is a rise in over-control as well as under-protection that leaves youth always being tracked and having no place to call their own. There has also been an increase in the "adultification" of public spaces, with the mall being about the only place left for youth to call their own. This has caused a structural dilemma in the sense that youth spend most of their time being monitored by their parents, and then suddenly one day simply thrown out into complete freedom. Another huge problem is the lack of non-parental mentoring especially for males. Spending time around same sex role models helps youths slowly integrate into society and learn tasks that neither school nor their parents may be able to teach them. A youth might think that his life has to be exactly the same way his parents live, and be disillusioned by the fact that there might not be other opportunities available to him, but by spending time around other grown men/women, he might be able to be slowly integrated into adult society without having to dread the coming of "the real world." This rolelessness in society and lack of actual preparation for the new requirements of adulthood, bring into play an immense fear of the working world which may be the reason why suicide is most prominent among the elderly all around the world, but in the United States, isuicide is most prominent for people ages 15-24, making it the second largest cause of death for that age period. This might indicate that the fear of "the real world" is bigger than the actual thing, and that through time, one is able to successfully integrate and adjust into the working world society.

If you are a TENager, I want to let you know that you are and have been living in the real world all along. The way society has used the term "real world" has made you think that you have been living a fake and meaningless existence. Yes, once one starts working and providing for oneself, bigger responsibilities arise, but you have been preparing for this your whole life. The most important things you need to know about society, you already learned in kindergarten: learn to share, play fair, don't hit people, clean up after yourself, don't take things that aren't yours, say sorry when you hurt somebody, wash your hands before you eat, flush, take a nap every afternoon, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together, hamsters and white mice- they all die. So do we. You may also "never have proof of your importance but you are more important than you think. There are always those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who.” (Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten). So, don't be so scared, we will all make it through.

The decisions that you make everyday have an impact. Don't be so anxious for the future, and take in the moment. You are living and growing, making changes, and loving. You have to take charge of who you are right now instead of waiting for the perfect day for life to start, because it won't come. Your life stated the day you were born, not the day you graduate, get your fist job, or got married. God has made you perfect for the purpose of your life ever since day one and have been made for so much more than what this world has to offer you. Remember that God has a plan for you.

For everyone else, I want to congratulate you for all the hard work you do. Even if you have been in the working world for 10, 20, or 30 years, it's okay if you still haven't figured out what the purpose or meaning of your life is, it's completely normal to feel scared just like you did when you were 15, because we don't become butterflies the day we graduate from college, we become butterflies when we die and actually go live in The Real World (aka heaven). Lastly, I encourage you to stop using the phrase "the real world" and say things such as "Things get harder once your career starts, or you should learn this because it will be useful if you are living on your own... etc" To change how we talk is to change what we are. Sentences are dependent upon their existence by vocabulary, and since vocabulary is made by human beings, so are truths. My argument is that a better vocabulary is available.Many tensions come from the failure of institutions and practices to live up to the convictions to which we are already committed to by the public vocabulary we use in daily life. The hope is that changing vocabulary may produce new social practices and human beings of a sort that have never before existed.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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