No longer just an MTV show where seven or eight strangers are filmed living together for a few months, the real world is slowly coming up on our radar screens.
I mean, when you think about it, “The Real World” is as fake as it gets. At least they’re guaranteed jobs, in addition to a rent-free, sweet place in the hippest neighborhoods (the Dupont Circle Brownstone featured in this current season is valued at $5,692,000).
The real world for us signifies the start of jobs, grad school, larger bills to pay and actually being able to use the term “grown up” to describe ourselves.
The beginning of the realization came a few months ago while watching “Reality Bites,” an early ‘90s movie in which Winona Ryder graduates as Valedictorian of her college class, and struggles to find a job while dealing with relationship and friendship drama and smoking a lot of cigarettes.
This wasn’t the first time I had seen the movie, since it’s my Generation X cousin’s favorite, but it was the first time I actually got it. I knew what Winona was talking about. Seeing high school classmates get married and have babies while you still feel like a kid. Thinking that you need to have it all figured out and settled when you’re handed that diploma. The feeling that you’ve worked so hard all your life, but for what?
I was at work on Monday, doing some filing, when I started talking about future plans with a co-worker, who is a second-semester senior as well. As we talked, I realized that I wasn’t the only one scared to graduate. It was then I started thinking again about “Reality Bites.” I felt like Winona Ryder, only without a grunge-era Ethan Hawke there to hold me and tell me everything’s going to be okay.
Some people look like they have it all—the right job offer, or acceptance into the most prestigious law school. But here’s the thing: they’re just as unsure as you are.
I’d love to tell you that I know exactly what I will be doing a year from now. But, like many of you, I have no plans for grad school, and I don’t have any job offers (yet; I’m trying to keep a positive attitude).
Am I scared of not knowing what’s going to happen? Definitely. It’s hard not to be, especially with most college graduates taking whatever they can get in this economy. But I do know graduation isn’t the apocalypse, and when you get that diploma, it can be a new beginning, if you look at it the right way.
Sure, you won’t get a surplus of free plastic cups and pens anymore. But with the bills and the job hunts come other fun experiences, like living in a new city, happy hours after work and never having to deal with General Education Requirements.
Reality can and will bite at times. In all honesty, though, you won’t be the only one who ends up with teethmarks.