The Realizations of the Real World
2015 was a year like none other. I had some of the most fantastic experiences of my life, made incredible friends and reached new heights. While it was one of my best years, it lacked a sense of permanence. For the entire year, I didn’t spend more than three months in the same location; a strain on relationships.
Now, here I am today, a week settled into my new apartment and job. Everything is falling right into place, just like I had fantasized. I’m picking up new hobbies, meeting new people, and attempting to set goals. I am right on track, yet I’m still confused.
When you spend 17 years straight in school, you learn to expect a certain structure. You anticipate clear assignments with a rubric that tells you the criteria required. You receive a report card at the end of the semester that gave you objective feedback on your progress. Most importantly, you long for the fresh start and possibilities that the next semester brings.
The real world is very different.
Your assignments are never clear and there sure isn’t a rubric. You will be told that you’re accountable for driving $X million dollars of revenue from Y people this year. Go!
Also, because there is no rubric, there is little objectivity. You will set arbitrary goals at the guidance of your manager and strive to achieve them, but you will rarely see a definitive “grade”. Worse yet, most organizations give little feedback as to how to improve your performance.
On top of that, your employment is indefinite. Projects will start and end, but your boss doesn’t change every four months. You can have the same manager for years in industry, which does allow for relative progress. However, corporations hold first impressions in high regard and you don’t get a clean slate every quarter. You need to hit the ground running.
The icing on the cake is that you no longer spend copious amounts of time with peers your age. You may have a cohort that was hired around the same time as you, but your team will likely be filled with people ten to twenty years your senior. You are robbed of the camaraderie that only the pains of academia can provide.
This vast degree of difference has left me confused and frustrated. Like an other type A millennial, I hate wasting time. I want to spend as much time as I can learning, making new relationships and standing out in the workplace. I want to establish myself as a leader in all areas of my life.
I also miss my friends and family that are no longer a five minute walk away. Even if they were in close proximity, things will never be the same. The freedom we once had has been exchanged for a steady paycheck.
I must come to grips with the fact that, In the real world you have significantly less control.
I have struggled with this early on. Corporate red tape, ambiguity and modern social dynamics have left me feeling stuck like my old 2004 Impala in the mud. Every time I push on the gas, I don’t seem to go anywhere.
Yet, I know with such uncertainty comes a fantastic opportunity. While the rules may have changed, the game being played is the same. It may take some time to adjust, but I know that I am here for a reason.
I am confident that I will be able to accomplish my personal, social and professional goals in this new chapter of my life. Sometimes, I just need to take a moment and relax. Success doesn’t happen overnight. I guess this is why patience is a virtue.
And if you are a young professional feeling the same nostalgia and confusion, know that you aren’t alone. The recent graduates who look like they know what they are doing are either in denial or Oscar award winners.