High school kids tend to exaggerate the importance of events. Not going to prom with the best looking person or getting an 85 on a test instead of a 90 are life-altering problems to them.
It’s only later that they realize such things are extremely trivial in comparison to the issues faced in the much-maligned “real world”—issues like being unemployed, not being able to afford going to the doctor because of insurance reasons, having a soul-destroying job, and many others.
It’s a bit of a cliché, but such maladies can turn wide-eyed dreamers into corporate drones and husks that work 9-5, eat, sleep, and go back to work—a cycle that lasts until retirement or death.
Recently, I wrote about this phenomenon for Thought Catalog. A friend/acquaintance of mine had given up his dreams of writing for a life of cubicles and financial trivialities. This broke my heart the way the world broke my friend.
Why are so many of us fated to become worse people? Is that just what “growing up” means—learning and accepting that you can’t have what you want in life? Or is the way American society is organized predisposed to mentally and spiritually (not spiritually in a religious sense but in a strength-of-character sense) neutering a massive percentage of the population?
Sadly, definitively answering these questions is a task far too herculean for one humble Internet writer to accomplish.
However, what I can do, is share my advice on how to avoid the sad fate my friend met with.
Working a “real job” is unavoidable for most (we can’t all be born rich). The slings and arrows of the corporate world may leave their marks on you but they don’t have to rule you. If you work a 9-5, get home at 6, and go to bed at midnight, you have six hours to be the person you want to be.
Yes, only having 6/24 hours to be yourself isn’t ideal but the world’s not ideal. Use those six hours to write, play an instrument, learn a language, surf, train MMA, or what have you. The important thing is that you grow or pursue something.
In high school, trying new things is easy because you have all the time in the world. Nothing is serious. Post-college, the world is different. It’s easy to lose track. Before you know it, a year has gone by and you’ve spent every night watching TV.
Don’t let that happen to you. Remember the thing you always wanted to do? Do it. And if you don’t want to do that anymore, do something else. Just never let yourself fall into the endless cycle of coming home from work only spend your time at home living in horror of having to go back to work the next morning.