Back in the 90s, MTV brought us one of the trailblazers in the reality TV movement: The Real World, with all of is spin-offs such as Boston, LA, Miami, and San Francisco to name a few. I just googled, and they are currently readying to start season 31. Phew. That’s a lot of drama, lies, sex, and cheating.
I finally finished grad school this past Monday. Yes, I did it! I defended and lived to tell the tale. I have taught preschool for over 11 years and have no problem standing in front of a room full of 3 year olds singing the “Baby Bumblebee” song, yet when it came to a 13 minute presentation to a room of only 6 people, I totally forgot to breathe when I was talking and almost passed out. But, I did make it, and they will be mailing me the oddly shaped piece of paper with the pretty writing on it in a few weeks.
I have now entered The Real World.
I have been in the Real World for a while now. I’m in my mid-30s after all. Yet, when you are juggling full-time school with full-time work, somehow people expect you to fall apart and marvel at your ability to keep it together. I think once you officially enter The Real World where you are only working full-time and trying to adult that the opposite is true: people expect you to keep it together and wonder what is wrong with you when you don’t.
In the past few days, I am in total awe of my own ability to keep it together. Weird, I know. I am noticing that certain things have happened in the past few days would have caused me to have complete meltdown if I was still in school. When you are overbooked and trying to juggle too many things, sometimes even the most innocuous incident can be the tipping point that pushes you to lose your mind. I am able to handle crisis situations much more calmly these past few days than I have in the past. There is hope for me yet. I can Adult.
It still feels fake. I have all these degrees and fancy credentials, which scream to the world, “look at me! I know something!” Really, I don’t. Yesterday, I could not even figure out how to use a scanner machine. No amount of education in the world will ever replace common sense.
Even though I may have the ability to Adult in the Real World, I still feel stuck in this student mentality that says that I am only getting through this moment so that I can continue with and finish school and move onto something better. Except, now I really am done with school, and everything has come to a dead halt. It’s like riding a galloping horse that suddenly decides to stop and completely throws you off, ass over ankles.
I’m just a little scared. I have no idea what I’m doing or what to do with myself.
Education is this cozy little cocoon that cradles you in the Ivory Tower of academia. Now, that ‘m out, I have to do it on my own and that is completely frightening. One of the things I have realized that came with being a student for the past 20 years is that I quite regularly received an allowance twice a year. Every semester, the student loan money would release and help me to get caught up on everything I either neglected or was not simply able to deal with in the whirlwind that was school and employment in low-wage jobs for long hours.
Uncle Sam has been my sugar daddy (in the form of student loans), and now I’m cut off. Not only do I have no one to bail me out, but also I have 20 years worth of allowance to pay back. Being an adult is kind of hard. I don’t live in the Real World of the TV series that is full of parties, drama, and relationships. I’m in the Real World of work, bills, and student loan debt.
Reality is scary. To conjure another 90s media reference, Reality Bites.
So while these past few days has shown me that I am capable of acting like an adult, it has also shown me that I bumble. I am far from perfect. One thing I do know is that being an adult is a lot easier when you are not trying to be in school full-time on top of all your other Real World obligations. Life is so much easier to handle when you slow down and have less on your plate.
While I fondly remember watching the Real World in my dorm room in the 90s (love him or hate him, you gotta remember Puck!), I am so glad that my life is not full of the drama of the TV series. I may be in the Real World, but in this world, I can Adult (sort of),
It really helps to adult when you rewind real slow.