You Can Take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill

Let me make something unequivocally clear first: my parents are not to blame.

There, now that we have that nasty piece of business out of the way, let’s begin.

I am a week away from graduating! And hopefully getting my degree, BUT GRADUATING!

I’m not going to do a post about how much the last four years have meant to me because, let’s be honest, a whole lot of people out there couldn’t care less. And if I had to read a blog post about somebody gushing over their treasured memories, none of which I could relate to (Oh! You just had to be there! Well I wasn’t so whoop de doo) then I’d probably bang my head against the screen.

Instead, I’m going to do a post that ties in both my graduation and something that has bothered me since coming to college. I’ll probably get some flak for this, but heck, I’ll say almost anything to get somebody to leave a comment on the blog.

I recently came across a magazine that recommends new up and coming books as well as lists for particular genres: Mystery, Romance, Graduating Seniors—hey! That’s me!

I flipped to the page and found the book list titled under:

For Graduates: Welcome to the Real World

 

RealWorld

Very few statements anger me more than this one.

Never mind that one of the books was called You are Not Special: And Other Encouragements, which actually sounds really funny; I was just so put off by that title I couldn’t continue.

So what about it irks me so? First, a disclaimer: as I stated earlier my parents are not to blame. They have done a wonderful job raising me (I think, but I’m biased), have supported me through so much, including paying for college with the expectation I will do the same for my own kids, and stood by me on many, many things. They are truly incredible and I will never be able to repay them (though it could be said I was forever indebted when I was born but hey, who’s counting?).

Also, a lot of what I’m talking about doesn’t necessarily apply to me. I’ll admit I am beyond lucky to have the opportunities I’ve had, and to have it as good as I do. I understand that.

Anyway…

All through my college career I have been told that once I graduate I’ll get into the ‘Real World’ and do ‘Real Things’ and ‘Grow Up’ and all of that nonsense. I was told to savor the last four years because it’ll be the best I’ll ever have.

I don’t buy it.

I have met tons of kids my age who are living in the ‘Real World’. I have met those who are more grown up than some of my friends’ parents. I have friends who have seen more, done more and dwelled more in the darker side of life than anyone at any age should have to.

They are living in the ‘Real World’.

They are working two jobs while going to school, sometimes while raising kids. They are dealing with addictions, tragedy, heartbreak, loss, fear, anger, resentment; they struggle with inadequacy and suicide and with a life so tough it is a wonder they manage to crawl out of bed every morning.

Sounds an awful lot like the ‘Real World’ to me. And if it’s not, I am absolutely terrified of graduating.

Heck, all of this doesn’t even have to be in college. We’ve all struggled with this since middle school. It’s a part of that thing called ‘Growing Up’.

There are always those who say ‘Welcome to the Real World’ in jest, I understand that. But for every one that does there is another who is completely serious. They truly believe the kid they’re saying this to hasn’t ‘Faced Reality’ yet.

Sure, maybe the kid isn’t paying all the bills yet, or stuck in a dead in job (yet), or battling over custody of a child. Yet.

Often times this comes from those who have forgotten what it was like for them once upon a time, and they earnestly want to warn the new graduate (uphill both ways in six feet of snow with nothing to keep me warm but a hot potato in my pocket!).

But don’t neglect the accomplishments they’ve done too. Don’t dismiss the growth that’s happened.

Many times this statement stems from another source: how incredibly spoiled our generation (supposedly) is.

I agree, kids these days have it good. What with cars that can practically drive themselves and phones that are as powerful as computers, they’ll be making a robot that can sleep for you any day now. Even when I was a Youth Group leader the kids never had a phone less than a foot away from them.

Kids are so spoiled now a days.

We are. And we’re not. I wouldn’t say we’re the end-all be-all of spoiled. We’re just slightly more spoiled than the generation prior. A little farther to one side of the spoiled spectrum. That’s partly because of technology making everything so dang easy. Which, (surprise surprise!) is being invented by folks of the generation before us. To make life easier.

My Ecology teacher went on a rant about this the other day. His class has been a struggle for me all year. And, since over half the class is failing (our laziness or lack of teaching skills, I’ll let you decide), our professor decided to fill us in on why we are all doing so badly:

“It’s because you’re not taught to think anymore,” he said, with a crooked smile. “Everything’s handed to you on a silver platter. You don’t have to do any real work anymore. You don’t have to do any critical thinking.”

I agree.

Yes, I agree with him.

Partly.

There is a sure decline in the amount of true critical thinking being done in todays’ public school system. And yeah, you can now go to Google to look up anything and everything in an instant.

But again, that’s not entirely our fault. Wait, let me explain before someone says, ‘he’s not taking the blame for any of this!’.

Technology is progress. That’s never going to stop and it sure as heck isn’t our generations’ fault. It just is. Progress is as natural to the human race as breathing. We yearn to do better than our predecessors. We may lose some things in the process, but for the most part it’s good.

Secondly, schools teach to the tests. That’s all they care about. Anybody with a kid in public school, and yeah, college, knows what I’m talking about. In elementary school I was lucky enough to be selected for PAT. I have no idea what the acronym stands for, but it was a class separate from my usual classes, used entirely for cultivating a higher level of critical thinking. I came in on what I think is the tail end of that. I’m sure they still have something like it in school, but it’s probably shrunk.

Now all schools care about is doing well enough on the TAKS or STAR or TOSS or WHATEVER they have now, to get money from the state. So that’s how they teach their kids. They, and I, are products of lower thinking of which we can’t help.

So yes, there are a lot of kids these days that have it good. But what many people who blame ‘our generation’ for such crimes as laziness and lack of drive often forget that we usually turn out all right. What do you think your parents were thinking when they looked at Woodstock and the kids of the sixties and seventies? It probably wasn’t anything too good, I’m sure. But they turned out fine. Mostly.

And we will too. There are many kids out there who have done amazing and incredible things and continue to do so each and every day. We are constantly awed by the skill and prowess of younger generations. And we should be. They are the future.

So next time you feel like telling a graduate (or anybody, really) ‘welcome to the real world’ and mean it, just remember that they’re probably already there. And don’t despair, because we’ll turn out just fine.

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One thought on “You Can Take the Red Pill or the Blue Pill

  1. 100degreesummer says:

    Sean!
    I found your blog because your Mom posted about it in a comment on facebook, haha.
    I really love your post. I too hate it when people say “welcome to the real world”. I want to say, “As opposed to what? The fake world where I dealt with imaginary problems? Because I’m pretty sure my problems were as real as yours.”
    Anyways, your blog inspires me to write more on my blog where I wrote 3 posts last summer (haha again).
    Congrats on graduating, and I will be following your blog this summer for sure!
    I know Calum really enjoyed having you at UNT this semester and I did too.
    — Maddie

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