For twenty-one years, I lived in a fake world. Or at least that’s what I assumed it was called. Students are always told about the “real world”. It’s the one where you are no longer shackled to a lecture hall. You are free to roam around, explore, and discover. It’s a place for adults, not children. After living in the “real world” for seven months, I’ve realized that it’s all a lie. I was never living in a fake world, waiting to enter a real one. No. The world has always been the same. My life, however, is different. My life is now real. Before, my life was fake.
The other day, I went to the local mall to get a haircut. Afterwards, I decided to walk around. It took me five minutes to realize that I was the youngest one at the mall, and six minutes to realize I was the second youngest – a little girl was waiting to see Santa Claus. I remember those days. Everyone else, between the age of 4-22, was in school. I remember those days, too.
The people around me were much older than I, and were all on a mission. I could see it in their eyes. I could see it in the jump in their step. The hip in their hop. And the zig in their zag. They had done this before. They knew exactly what stores they had to visit, what to eat at the food court, and how much time they had to do it. Wonderful, I was walking among robots.
All of them had a winter coat zipped up to their chin and a scarf around their neck. If the roof of the mall caved in, these individuals were ready to brave the elements.
Then there were older people. Mainly, older men. I assume their wives told them to go somewhere for the day.
Here’s a secret about us men: we like to sit. Think I’m wrong? Have you ever heard of a “lazy girl” chair before? Exactly. That’s why it’s called a “lazy boy” chair. I rest my case.
There were at least twenty men sitting around tables in the food court. All of them with a coffee and a dozen recycled stories. The less talkative men were dispersed on couches throughout the mall – some with their eyes closed. No shame. No embarrassment. They just sat down like they owned the place and decided to take a nap. Good for them.
Then there was me. I didn’t have a winter jacket, nor a scarf. I wasn’t on a mission. I didn’t have tunnel vision; my eyes wandered. I didn’t have a hip in my hop, or a jump in my step. I didn’t have a time limit. I was just there. And I felt so out of place.
So this is what life at a mall is like during school hours.
Correction, this is what life at a mall, not located near a University, is like during school hours.
This wasn’t my life seven months ago. Seven months ago, my life involved: assignments, sleepless nights, presentations, class, and daily interaction with people my own age.
The world, seven months ago, was exactly the same as it is today. Students are still doing assignments and old men are still taking naps on couches. However, my life has changed. The things I do on a daily basis are different. I haven’t moved on to a “real world”. I was living in it all along. I have moved on to a real life.
What do I mean by a “real life?” Let me explain.
School is not real life. It is a fake life in a real world. Think about that.
The life we live at school is only temporary. The life we live outside of school is forever.
In University, you have a big group of friends – most of whom you see on a daily basis. You send them text messages, hang out with them, and play intramural sports with them. You are in a closed community with them. You rarely talk to people outside of this community. And the one’s you do talk to are either family, or classified as “home friends”.
When you’re at school, students form an “Us vs. The World” mentality without even realizing it. You don’t want to talk to “The World” – they don’t understand what you’re going through or how many sleepless nights you’ve had. No. You want to stay inside your little community because that is your life.
Once you graduate, that “fake life” is no longer there and will never return. You don’t do everything with your school friends anymore. If you’re trying to picture what that is like, think of the four months of summer you have as a student. You and your friends scatter to separate hometowns and rarely see each other.
Upon graduating, I switched teams. As a member of “The World”, I am now the enemy. My life does not involve daily interaction with my friends still in school. Heck, it barely involves contact with them.
Their life no longer matches up with my life. I am left as an outsider – a frustrated outsider. And although I had planned to go on a rant about how frustrating it is, I shouldn’t.
Instead, maybe I’ll go take a nap on a couch at the mall. Because in real life, that doesn’t bother anyone.