I must confess, I laughed when I saw Maria Shriver had come out with a book called, Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went Out into the Real World. The real world? Come on! She grew up a Kennedy and married the biggest action movie star of all time! That aside, it got me thinking: What are ten things I wish I would have known before going out into the real world? So, here they are:
Life isn’t fair.
Your mother always told you this but as kids we never believed it. We think that somehow mom was two tacos short of a combo plate and that eventually we’ll get into the real world and show her how those who work hard and do right always come out on top. Then after about five years we become disenchanted and start to smell the coffee. Life isn’t fair! Why didn’t anybody tell me that? I guess they did, didn’t they? Unfortunately, sometimes the bad guys wins. Sometimes people die early. We shouldn’t take this lightly, but we must be realists. While we accept what comes our way, we should still strive to work hard, dream big, and do right.
People play favorites.
It’s true that it isn’t what you know but who you know that counts. This is because people play favorites. Sometimes it doesn’t matter that you’re the best person or have the lowest bid. People will regularly cut deals with people they like or who can scratch their back in return. The lesson to learn is that while we strive to achieve much and have excellent skills, we should also develop a strong network of healthy relationships.
People will let you down.
Being a person who does what he says can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I’m able to look at myself in the mirror each day. It’s a curse because if you’re like that, you will most likely expect the same from others who may let you down. People can be bad at keeping their word or doing what’s right. I could have relieved a lot of emotional stress if I’d have known this one before getting out into the real world.
Not everybody wants to grow personally.
I just assumed that everybody loves to learn and grow. I thought everybody wanted to get better at what they did. The reality is, however, that many people do not. That’s why there’s something we call “average.” Most people want to stay where they are. Those who strive to go forward will always be cutting against the grain and will often be resented, even if quietly, for it.
The stock market goes down sometimes.
Some of you older folks knew this, but we young whippersnappers have been riding it high on the hog for a while. This is good in a sense, but unless you have some common sense of how financial markets work, you can get quite a shock from time to time. You see, before you get into the real world, everything gets handed to you and you really don’t have to work for much. Then you do and you think that every investment will turn out grand. Whoops!
The older you get, the harder it is to lose weight.
I was always a little “pudgy.” Nothing big, just not like the cover guys of Men’s Health magazine. You know, the ones that say Six-pack abs in 20 minutes a day. I think that means they only eat twenty minutes a day, and it’s usually stewed vegetables! But I digress. If I would have known better, I would have worked harder when I was younger to keep the weight off so I wouldn’t have to work that much harder now!
Marriage is work.
A good marriage is more work. When you’re young you think, “I’ll find the girl of my dreams and we’ll live happily ever after.” Well, hello! You forget that your spouse is human and you are too (most of the time)! To live under the same roof with someone and to work out likes and dislikes, personalities, and schedules, not to mention life goals and the like is HARD WORK! Not drudgery, just work. Yes, there will be plenty of bliss and joy, but a good marriage will make you work for it!
It takes longer to get out of debt than to get into it.
I’ve never really had much debt. I did take out student loans to pay for school and wow, do they take a long time to pay off. Fortunately, I have them paid off, but for a while, it was one of the biggest checks we wrote every month. Many people think credit cards are great because they can have what they want when they want it. They don’t realize that twenty minutes of shopping ecstasy will result in months or years of payments. Take control of your personal finances.
Don’t try to please others.
I have always wanted people to like me. Many times, I wanted them to like me too much. That isn’t good. This doesn’t work, because I realized that most of the time, people liking or disliking you has nothing to do whatsoever with rational thought. Some people will dislike you, no matter how well you have done, and others will love you, warts and all. So I do my best and let the chips fall where they may now.
You need to tend to your spiritual, emotional, and physical health or you will crash hard.
If you don’t take time for yourself, both inwardly and outwardly, your body will catch up with you. You can take time for yourself by choice or not. It’s much more fun by choice! Life is hard and it can and will weigh you down. We need to tend the fires of spirit and mind while keeping our physical bodies tuned for success as well. If not, our mind and bodies break down.
Bonus: In spite of the above, life is very much worth it!
Some of the tips listed above may seem like bummers. They aren’t the positive things we like to focus on, but they are true. Being positive doesn’t mean sticking your head in the ground in order to avoid the negative aspects of life. What it means is that we need to be realists who understand the negative aspects of life and choose to be optimists instead. We deal with the negative and pursue the positive. That’s why I can say that life is worth living no matter how expensive or painful the lessons I’ve had to learn. Life is good and I can make it better!
I had to learn some lessons after I got into the real world. So what? At least I learned them and can live the rest of my life to the fullest from now on. I hope you can too!