Journey into the Real World
“It’s not like I received a letter or membership card,” said 20-year-old Jon. “Everyone seems to talk about it, but I don’t really know what it is.”
Like Jon, have you ever wondered, “What exactly is the real world? and How do I know when I’ve entered it?”
Does the real world start when you’re legally able to
drive? In my home state of
From my experience, you enter the real world at the time in your life when you take the majority of responsibility for your life’s direction. For some, this is as early as age 10. For others, it may not happen until they reach their 30s. Many would argue that they know people who’ve never entered the real world.
The difference between the real world and what exists before the real world is shelter. Parents and the academic world are the two most common shelters that exist. Parents can protect and guard their children for decades from having to face the big questions of life. I personally know people in their late 20s who haven’t yet looked at questions such as “What should I do for a living?” and “Who am I?” because they’ve been so sheltered. Do you know anyone like this?
Likewise, the academic world has a way of creating a mythical existence that only exists inside its walls. Bank loans and family savings are used to maintain a safe and structured life. In school you know what you have to do to get an “A”, when your assignments are due, and what classes you need to take next semester. The real world is far less clear. No longer does your life have a clear grading system that tells you how you are performing. Instead, it is up to you to navigate your own way.
The good news is that the moment you and I take responsibility for our journey into the real world a new phase of our lives unfolds. One in which we no longer rely upon the old protection and predictability. Instead as Henry Ford, the father of the modern automobile industry, said, “Life becomes a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this. For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks which we endure help us in our marching onward.”
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