Adorned in a cap and gown you’re handed a diploma, convinced one chapter of your life has ended so another can begin. You’re told so much will change as the real world patiently waits and the glorious pressures of responsibility loiter in the shadows just around the corner, eager to make your acquaintance. You prepare for a different set of guidelines painted in a change of scenery your parents have been dreading since always.
What a waste of anticipatory time.
Sure you’re living life sans curfew, with bills instead of report cards and bosses instead of teachers. However, while the nuances of the game have slightly altered in favor of freedom, the game itself has stayed the same.
Your Superintendent is now the President. You don’t really pay attention to anything he/she does until it directly affects you or the place in which you reside. If the Superintendent banned coed soccer in your school district, you are suddenly aware of their name. If the President proposes a $302 billion bill to revitalize the nation’s transportation infrastructure, making it easier for you to make it to work while simultaneously battling a nasty hangover, you take notice. Otherwise, he’s just a guy working in a fancy office with way more responsibility than you.
Student Government is now called the Senate. They’ve been elected by their peers but, honestly, are incapable of evoking change that’ll benefit the people who’ve given them power. They’re mostly using their position of power to further their futures. It all looks good on a resume.
Your Principle is now the Mayor of your respective city. Again, rarely do they cross your mind unless they can directly affect something of the utmost importance to you. If you’re capable of snagging an ounce of their positive attention, you’re an exceptional human doing exceptional things that will ultimately, and most importantly, make your community look the most exceptional. If you’ve gained their focus due to something negative, well, you’re fucked.
Your teachers have become your employers, handing out paychecks instead of report cards. You can miss work for being sick with a note from your doctors, you can take vacation but only during specific dates, otherwise you must be at your desk at a certain time to log in your eight hours. Instead of learning arithmetic, you become privy to essential knowledge like which bathroom is always on the fritz, which coworker has a drinking problem, and the four most effective ways to look busier than you actually are. All vital pieces of information you’ll carry with you forever.
Notes passed during class are now called social media. You hide Facebook walls from bosses and 140 character notes from supervisors and spend way too much time taking superfluous quizzes that somehow reveal unknown parts of yourself after you pick a color, drink, and popular song. Buzzfeed is now the childhood game that could correctly determine when you would get married, how long you’ll stay married, and who the lucky man or woman you’ll marry will be.
The popular kids are now celebrities. You’re inexplicably drawn to their seemingly flawless lives, waiting to watch them parade around in their best as the homecoming court of the Golden Globes or the prom court of the Academy Awards. When you hear who’s crowned as king and queen of the night you weigh in, as if you know anything about them at all. “He completely deserved it” or “That’s too bad, she’s so nice” are shared sentences between friends. All baseless, hopeful sentiments.
So, when this new found “real life” has you drowning in a sea of overwhelming responsibility. When situations seem too large and necessities seem out of reach and a course of action seems like a blurred image you’ve stared at for far too long, just remember:
You’ve already graduated from four years of practice.