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Real World My Ass

Can anyone actually give a satisfactory account as to what is meant when someone says–usually to a college student after he or she graduates–that it is time to live or exist (or some such corresponding term) in the real world? It’s a very common saying but I can’t make sense of it. Does it have to do with the competition that is involved in the job market? Or perhaps it has to do with the responsibility and struggles that come with living on one’s own (which often happens after college)? Whatever the case may be, there must be a better set of terms that can be used to refer to whatever it is that such individuals are referring. I don’t mind folk-talk or shorthand terms and phrases. That sort of language usage can be valuable and even indispensable. But this one just doesn’t work.

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Categories: Philosophy
  1. 07/01/2009 at 12:59 pm

    i think these things may be somewhat superficial, but here are some significant adjustments i remember after graduating.first, unless you become a teacher or professor, your whole concept of time and schedules kinda changes, because pretty much everything you do is year-round. nothing is divided up into segments, and you very rarely have variety, once you settle into your job or career. also, vacations and time off are harder to come by, and your free time is generally relegated to the evening and weekend hours. bottome line: your schedule is more restricted and regimented – or at least, in a more predictable way.second, NO HOMEWORK!! that was the best thing. in most jobs, there's rarely any prep work that needs to be done at home or away from the office. unless, of course, you're a workaholic or some kind of artist/designer or something. i don't know if there's a way to put an exact description on "the real world". to me, it's always connotated a change in your way of perceiving your immediate world, if only because, for the first time, you're not looking at life in terms of school, which is pretty much the only thing you've known until now. that's not just schedule-wise, but also in the fact that there maybe aren't always as many people watching out for you, taking care of you, scolding you, etc. another thing i noticed was that you don't have a built-in peer group anymore. you have to go looking for friends to hang out with and stuff. it's easy for introverts to be hermits.of course, there are always exceptions, and like i said, these things aren't deeply philosophical. there are good and bad sides to "the real world".

  2. 07/01/2009 at 4:37 pm

    To be honest, I think people often say it because they preferred the college and childhood years and aren't happy with the burdens they carry now. In order to justify it to themselves they tell you that you are now entering the *real world*. It's more legitimate, and that is why it's worth bearing. And it gives them a sense of superiority which can shield them from their underlying and subtle jealousy.The world, wherever you are in it, is always real. 🙂

  3. 07/02/2009 at 1:23 am

    Yeah, I don't think I'm a big fan of this real world. Given, I hate homework. But I don't really like making my own decisions. 😉 The sounds bad, sure. But as Kierkegaard would say, I like having my essential goals (basically) planned out for me so that my possibilities are limited. Because when there's only one direction to go, there's no anxiety. Anxiety results from having to make one choice out of many possibilities. And yes, by the time most college students graduate, they are in their early twenties and have yet to have made a momentous decision in their life. Maybe choosing which college to attend was significant but otherwise everything was pretty much set out for them.

  4. 07/02/2009 at 1:44 am

    I like your take on it. They want to make it sound as if you've had it easy up to this point (which may or may not be true) because they long for the good ol' days when life was, perhaps, less difficult. And perhaps that is why they call it "real"…because it's supposed to be difficult, or something, perhaps insinuating that college or graduate school cannot be as difficult as having a full-time job. I almost want to say that the most difficult part about life-after-college for most people is finding something to settle into. As I said above, college is enjoyable because you know what you have to do: everything is set out for you. But once you graduate, you don't have that to fall back on. But I suspect that the same is true once you settle into a career. Not that life is now perfectly enjoyable but, presumably, that college-security would have returned. Or I would guess.

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