As a parent, part of the contract you signed (without ever really signing a contract) is to prepare your kids for The Real World (which, before you ask, isn’t a new reality TV show set in Orange County or somewhere).
For most kids these days, that means understanding what life is really like after college because it couldn’t be more different. Where college life consists of sleeping in late, eating pizzas five days a week, copy class notes off a mate and drinking on school nights more than weekends, The Real World requires waking up to a screeching alarm, watching what you eat for fear of expanding outward, showing up if you want to succeed and swapping cheap booze for expensive herbal teas knowing you can’t function on a hangover.
The point is: us parents need to create a sort of decompression chamber for our college-departing kids, and the best way to do this is telling them the truth about the real world; the truths you’ve been hiding from them for too long. Good luck.
1. No One Is There To Stop You Screwing Up
At first, this realisation is cool AF. You’re free and independent and away from prying eyes. But then you screw up and realise you have no one to blame but yourself, which sucks. Hard. That said, when you do accomplish something great, you get to soak in a deep bath of self-pride.
2. The Real World Is Stupidly Expensive
As a college kid, you think you have some idea of the expenses out there. But then you graduate and realise your knowledge was like a paper cut on the skin of a rhino. Knowing how expensive it is just to stay alive will throw you a little. Phone bills, rent, drinks without student prices, clothes without student discounts, adult rail fares, adult groceries (not frozen pizzas). It’s expensive.
3. Your Friendship Group Will Diminish
Well, maybe not diminish, but you’ll go from being on a campus surrounded by your forty-strong squad with nothing to do but hang out to working a job and barely having time to cook dinner, nevermind see your besties. It’s a really hard realisation to take. But you’ll need your friends, so fight for them. Call to them four times a week and WhatsApp them every morning. It will stop you feeling so lonely in your 20s.
4. The Paperwork Will Pile High
Taxes, student loans, pension schemes, apartment contracts, house insurance, car insurance, receipts for petty cash - there is so much paperwork, and every single piece is like looking at the iTunes T&Cs. The trick is staying on top of it. Ask your dad’s accountant for help, use consolidatestudent.loan to make your repayments more manageable, shop around for insurance and keep all your contracts in an organised folder. You will never stop getting paperwork, so get a system going now.
5. Get Out There And Risk It All
One day you will have kids and a mortgage to worry about, so make the most of your freedom now. Buy a van and travel around mainland Europe. Try your luck in L.A. Move to Indo-China to teach English as a foreign language for almost no money. See if your idea for tie-dyed ferrets will attract the Hipster market. Chase your dreams, make time for your passions and sell your sister for a ten thousand dollars if the offer is there. What’s the worst that can happen? You’re 23. If something does go wrong, you have plenty of time to remedy it. Life was not meant to be played safe. Not yet anyway.