I get a lot of junk email. Everyday my inbox is cluttered with message about meetings around campus for clubs I don’t belong to, sales that I “Just Can’t Miss!” going on at various stores across the web, and messages from my school administration reminding me not to sit on the floor or eat during chapel services.
This week, while completing my morning routine of stashing each of these unnecessary messages into the abyss that is my “deleted” folder, something caught my eye.
“Looking for jobs?” the announcement read. “Learn how create a portfolio, interview successfully, and prepare yourself for the real world!”
The real world.
That’s a buzz phrase on college campuses—the all-encompassing summation of whatever family situation, living place and, of course, career we’ll settle into after these four years of strange limbo-like preparation. We’re constantly fed this line from professors, family members, fellow students, and even the anonymous writers behind mass emails.
But I think it’s time that we challenged this view of the “real world.”
College is a time for big ideas; it’s a time of high-stress high-stakes decisions that will affect us and those around us for years to come. It’s an opportunity to let those around us deeply affect us.
I don’t think that embracing the realness of college is a call to have our live “figured out” earlier; if anything, I’d argue the opposite. There is so much truth and reality and experience to be embraced during the period of discovery.
Thinking of these years as a mere waiting period for what is to come can have harmful consequences. If we don’t see our current endeavors and relationships as “real,” what’s the point in investing in what’s going on around us? This selfish defiance to engage in what’s happening here and now makes it far too easy to check-out early and miss out on important lessons, relationships, skills, and ideas that might never come our way again.
Our 20s should be spent conversing, learning, exploring, reading, questioning, travelling, and loving. We should be courageously immersing ourselves in as many experiences as possible, so that we can best know the world and be a fruitful part of it.
What isn’t real about that?