I have been a self-aware adult for a while now and walking into this scary morass called “The Real World” has not been pleasant. It’s nothing like anything my past has prepared me for. I know so many people have walked this life and yet I cannot begin to fathom how they survived it and how they survive it still every day.  

It’s very unhealthy to think of things like looming death and its arrival without one accomplishing one’s goals and dreams. It’s very unhealthy to think that there isn’t a point to having goals and dreams with so much going on out there in the world, and there’s also a huge blow in the stomach that comes with one feeling like they’re not only good potential going to waste but that one might have never been as good a potential to begin with because the way “The Real World” actually is, is something quite horrible. 

I was a by-standing witness of a brutal shoving scene to get a seat in a taxi to travel the distance from Ura’el to Kazanchis. Upon seeing that, I wanted to sit down and cry because of how people can be like that for something so, so simple.

When I talk about not getting along with people and about being a bit of a sore thumb around my community, people often assume that it is a ploy to appear weird and interesting. These sometimes line crossing comments have actually made me wonder if I have an undiagnosed mental issue that my family overlooked somehow because we’re all very much alike and it just looks to me like there’s some big secret to survival that everyone knows except for me. 

I started thinking back to times when I was learning to deal with life and I realized that there was very little that parents, guardians and teachers had to teach me about “the real world”. While most of my peers are privileged kids, somehow we’ve all had to figure it out on our own. I’ve always had the idea that ‘grownups’ had the obligation to prepare us for what was to come. When my old high school friend’s mom refused to let her daughter live away from home upon graduating from high school, I considered it a pretty weird and unfair thing for the mom to be doing but today it occurred to me that perhaps she’d known all along that her daughter just wasn’t ready to be out there yet and it might have scared her that she would never be. Last week I was having lunch with a group of friends and they started talking about how they’d teach their kids about the birds and the bees. For the life of us, none of us could remember anyone having such conversations with us in a formal capacity. What education we got, we received from our very shy teacher in the fourth grade where he kept blushing every time we laughed in juvenile humor.

It wouldn’t be very fair for me to criticize the generation that raised mine because that generation was also brought up by a conservative one that didn’t really utilize honest communication and openness to prepare the next one for “The Real World”. At this point in time, most of us know that there are certain measures to take in raising a kid such as proper and humane ways to punish the kid for doing something wrong, when to provide what materials for that kid to learn of the outside world, what evils to shield the kid from and how this kid should carry him/herself in front of others. People have a tendency to just turn out okay in spite of everything if you’re looking at the bigger picture but I can’t help but think of those who become rapists, slave owners, serial killers and writers and how much of the awkwardness and conflict in the world is caused by the lack of understanding how “The Real World” works or worse, by thinking one does know.  

Maybe I’m being a bit unfair in saying that grownups didn’t raise us well. I made it seem like they didn’t try at all. They did. We’ve all been told of the basic ways to be a good human being either at school, at church or at home. We’re all told that we shouldn’t lie and cheat, that we shouldn’t be rude to others, that we shouldn’t kill. There were certain basics that I imagine someone sometime must have shared with us; to be kind and hardworking, to help others and to be honest, to love our enemies and all that stuff…. Upon walking this “Real World” lately though, it feels like a place completely different from the one I’d lived in as a kid. The same adults who’d have told me to be honest and hardworking now let me in on a little secret.

It was all a lie. It’s everyone for oneself. (That was my attempt to be gender neutral haha. The actual term is “everyman for himself”)

Every time I’m angry about something the rest of the world considers petty, there would be an adult around to tell me to understand the way the world works and that I should get with the program. The way “the real world” works has nothing to do with the basic rules such as not lying and trying to be a good person. Every success is actually achieved by breaking all the basics and defeating everyone else.  

You may not have noticed it but you’re supposed to make friends but you’re not supposed to care what people think about you. They’ll be telling you not to listen to what people tell you.  You’re supposed to be honest but to also nice, to be yourself but also what you’re supposed to be, you have to learn but never make mistakes, there’s a heaven but death is evil… sharing what you have will probably make you poor because everyone will take what they can. If you let people know that you care about them, they will most likely go around feeling important and breaking your heart. It’s always a competition to appear better by not actually being better.

I know that this entry looks dominated by my cynicism but that just happens to be it and I am not lying. No one really says it out loud but in that taxi there can only be space for a limited number of people and everyone wants in. If you’re an idiot like me, you’ll get angry, maybe cry and walk that distance from Ura’el to Kazanchis but if you’re a winner, you’ll fight all those other people and take that seat.

1 thought on “Growing up Part Four: “The Real World”

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