Saturday, September 10, 2016

Stop Waiting for the "Real World"

“Just wait till you get out there in the real world….’

As a college student, I've heard this phrase over, and over, and over again. Sometimes it ends with “...this will seem like nothing,” or “...then you'll understand,” or “...then you'll see.”

Today, I’m going to throw something else out there for my buddies who are also in those precious stages of life before college graduation.

Dear friend, please don't wait for the real world.

Please don't wait for it, because you're living in it, now.

Look around you. Look at the place where you live, the school you go to, the church you attend. You are surrounded by opportunities to impact the world around you. You are surrounded by living, breathing human beings. And even if you aren't surrounded, you must have access to the internet, or you wouldn't be reading this. All those things connect you with information, opportunity, and humanity. How can anyone say this isn't a valid part of reality? Sure, it’s not what the rest of your life will look like. Sure, you have a lot of things being given to you that you will have to fight for in your future. Don't deny that your life will look a lot different after graduation.

Just don't waste the very real world you are in right now.

Friend, you have the opportunity to grow and develop as a person. That does not change when you graduate. It just changes form. Don't wait to start becoming who you should be.

Friend, you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you, if you'll choose to learn from experience when you leave books behind. But you don’t have to wait for those experiences to hit you like a wall of bricks. Go after learning: inside and outside the classroom.

Friend, you have every capacity to make a difference in the lives of this around you, whether or not you have a 9-to-5 job. In fact, the freedom you have now, as the world gives you a bit more leeway than it will later, gives you the opportunity to do things you might never have again.

Friend, just because you have the option of being noncommittal and disconnected does not mean you have to be. And, for the record, that option doesn’t go away. Choose the right one, starting now.

Your life is no less valid because you have the luxury of a summer vacation.
Your life is just as legitimate, your experiences as meaningful, as anyone “out there.”

Please stop living these years just  waiting for the future. Your life begins at birth, not graduation. The choices you make now are key to living with meaning. Take smart risks. Make stupid jokes. Show love. Speak the Gospel.

You don't have to wait until you've met someone else's expectations of realistic experience to start engaging the very real part if the world you are living in now.

Now, don't get me wrong. As college students, most of us don’t really understand our taxes, or support families, or know exactly what it's like to live on our own. We have so much to learn, and the people that say “just wait for the real world,” are probably just trying to communicate to us (because we're often rebellious know-it-all’s who don’t know as much as we think we do) that we have a long road ahead.

So when you are presented with that statement, take the opportunity to learn. Ask them questions. Apply their answers to your life. Respect those with more experience than you. Honor them. Be humble. You know what? They've had more time than you. Chances are, they're smarter than you in many ways.

But if you start to feel like your life right now is worth less than theirs is because you are in a phase of life where you are preparing for the future, then you are missing what it means to experience the real world.

Embrace every single moment you've been given, especially the one you're in.
Because if you keep waiting for reality to sink in, it never will. God put you where you are for a reason.  Find that, and go after it with everything you are. Most of all, use your time to pursue Him above all. Whatever you do, don't sit around waiting to engage your world.