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.