Don't Worry College Graduate, The Real World Is Just Like High School

Life is full of frightening transitions — adolescence, parenthood, those god-awful bifocals that morph into sunglasses when you’re outdoors — but perhaps the most overrated metamorphosis occurs when you ‘enter the real world.’ You’re told that entering the real world is jarring because before, when you were in college or high school or whatever the hell people do before they’re real adults, that was all fake. None of it counts, even if you worked forty hours a week to pay your way through school, gave birth to the second Jesus, and cured that god awful funny bone sensation. Just ask anyone who is 2-5 years older than you and they’ll happily point out that your worldview is insignificant and underdeveloped and will remain that way until modern science can age you to the celebrated and all-knowing age of [insert age of smug adult here].

But fear this transition not. Without your knowing, you were groomed for this moment for years. Well, for four years anyway, which isn’t that substantial an amount of time but would give you the experience of say, an account executive in TRW (‘the real world’). Think back. Remember the days you’d feign illness to avoid facing your responsibilities? The days when your parents were concerned about you to an almost crippling degree? Remember when you’d make it halfway through your day before unconsciously pausing to wonder how it’s possible to be surrounded by so many bloodsucking, immature assholes?

Yes friends, I’m talking about high school — which, as it happens, is baby cousin to the aging, cynical ‘real world‘ (who, might I add, is starting to get leather face and will never find someone to settle down with if she doesn’t quit being such a raging bitch all the time). I’m talking about how like, sometimes you take a sick day from work because you’re ~78% certain that if you have access to office supplies, you will create a reinforced noose out of paper clips and hang yourself in the shared, almond-soap-scented bathroom; you call out of work because you’re sick with worry over whether your entire life is going to just… be this, all the time, this holding your breath when accessing your bank account or this calling around for help when you’ve got the flu because you live alone, really alone, the lonely kind of alone that becomes especially apparent when you’ve got the flu. So yeah, taking sick days doesn’t end after high school.

And your parents, they’re still going to worry about you. Except now they worry about the massive debt you’ve incurred earning a degree that would be better used wiping your ass; they worry that you will never own a home, or a business, or a car even. They worry that you won’t find someone to love you the way they do, or they worry that if you do, they won’t be able to help you finance the wedding. They worry that you won’t give them grandkids, or that you will, because how the hell are you going to afford that?

Oh, and the cattiness, the pettiness, the qualities of people you’ve sought to avoid your entire life are alive and well post-high school. In fact, one could say these vices have been perfected by some, their passive aggressiveness sharpened and expertly tailored like a prison shank. Even the worst behavior of your coworkers, peers, and acquaintances is justifiable, they’ve been practicing for years. It’s not immaturity, it’s just bluntly expressing yourself in an excessively reckless way. It’s not catty, it’s just sinking your claws into someone because having a civil conversation requires tact, thought and time. It’s not petty, it’s just that you like to belabor over the little things, the things that are of no consequence to you personally or otherwise, it’s just that goading people is the cheapest form of entertainment and well, you’re on a tight budget this month.

Don’t worry, it’s not all bad. You’ll make lifelong friends, you’ll continue learning, you won’t need to supply an excuse when you want to go to bed early. You will navigate this stage the same way you did all the others: with gumption, fear, and marijuana. You won’t make it out alive, but then again, no one will.

Congratulations? TC mark


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  • Sarah N. Knutson

    And your first day on your first “real” job will feel like the first day of high school. Circle of life…

  • Kai

    Learn to sit on all those complaints you have about group work, because being a “team player” is part of the bullshit real world.

  • Cole G Youngner

    Can’t say I relate to this at all. I think it depends on what field you’re in, if you have debt from college, and whether you still have friends around after college. If you don’t go immediately into a career type job in your field or are taking time off before applying to grad school, it can definitely be an awkward time of transition… but I think this piece is alot of hyperbole without much concrete truth to it.

    • xxxxxxxxxxxx

      I agree. I also think the writing in really sloppy here. The author tries really too hard to be funny, the transitions are awkward, and the jokes are cumbersome. I understand why this was posted on a Friday afternoon…

  • Iamsoy

    How did you know about my secret arsenal for the navigation of life?

  • Andy

    If your life isn’t different after high school, you need to look at the consistent variable – you.  Life after high school can be and for most of us is very different, but only for those of us done with high school and wanting to move on.  If you don’t want to move on, you’ll seek out the same situations – catty passive-aggressive friends, social tiers, and jobs where you watch the clock.  The rest of us put on our big-kid pants, address passive-aggressiveness head-on, remember that everyone is only human and talk to people regardless of social tiers, and respect ourselves enough to look daily for jobs to get ourselves out of ones just to pay the mortgage.  And most parents, well, they’ll always worry about us, like they’ve done seen we were born.  Anyone who has ever met a parent knows that wouldn’t change simply because we’ve earned a few slips of paper.

  • danibee

    I thought this was hilarious. It’s true on a bad day. On a good day, not as much. I’m sure the author knows this. To the person who said “this piece is a lot of hyperbole without much concrete truth to it” – welcome to TC, glad you were able to join us, if a bit late.

    Thanks for the laughs!

  • Hangryhippo

    so true, in all the best and worst ways possible. but at least those office supplies are free and always accessible, right? RIGHT?! ugh.

  • Dj Dingus

    “gumption, fear, and marijuana.” brilliant. 

  • Feminism2012

    you’re the most catty, petty writer on this site i think. i’ll never forget that (catty, bitchy if there ever was one) article where you say “i don’t care about what you’re eating” where you go on to insult anyone who takes cooking on as a hobby. y.a.f.b.

    • I'M SORRY

      I don’t know why I liked this. But I can’t unlike it now .

      • Feminism2012


    • Stephanie Georgopulos

      I didn’t write whatever you’re talking about.

    • HEY. YOU.

      YOU SHUT UP.

  • Frida

    everything is just the same thing most of the time, but hopefully you won’t have to be.

  • Guest

     marijuana tends to be expensive if you are a habitual user of it…maybe if you cut that out you’d be able to eventually afford other things..

  • Kdonovan94

    Yeah….This is why I like to read Thought is like an itch  I can’t stop scratching. I am the same age as most of these people and my life just is not like theirs at all. I got married, I had a kid, I have a fulfilling career and do volunteery stuff on the weekends.  I am not saying this is some path to salvation or happiness but it sure does not feel like high school. And some mornings, I wake up and see all the promise of the day and I get this panicky feeling, this feeling that this is what I was waiting for and that the waiting days are gone forever.

    • Guest

       why would you feel panicky if you are supposedly happy..

  • Guest

    +1 for kc from degrassi as the into picture

  • SomeGuest

    So true. Just like high school, but now they have decades of practice in justifying hypocrisy.

    • Guest

      now they have decades of talking behind your back..poor kid!

  • Jennifer Sussex

    You might want to be careful about posting about drugs, Stephanie. Don’t give people an excuse to fire you if you have enough to worry about with politics. 

  • Ithk

    god it’s so fucking hard to be a white relatively well-off recent college graduate. how the fuck do we manage

  • Anonymous


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