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Learning to Live in the Real World
October 2009

I firmly believe that no amount of forewarning can adequately prepare young adults for what hits them when they step out into the “real world.”

This world often consists of working a full-time job, managing personal finances, living away from family, and finding purpose amidst all the life changes.

It seems as though formal education should help make the transition easier—if anything prepares us for adult life, our education system should. But high school does not do this. Instead, we leave thinking the world revolves around weekend plans and that cute guy we met last week.

And as a recent university graduate, I can say post-secondary education does not prepare us either. We go from having a purpose and endless opportunities to exhibit our talents, to working our way up from the literal bottom of the employment world—if we are fortunate enough to even find a job.

If education does not teach us what to do when real life hits, can anything? How do we know what to do when we’re suddenly left to fend for ourselves? As I begin my foray into this real world, these are my questions.

My life before graduation was “unreal” because I lived in a clearly boxed-in world. I lived either on my university campus or minutes away with fellow students. My life was full of school responsibilities, including homework and extracurricular activities. When I wasn’t busy with these things, I was hanging out with school friends. My life was plainly outlined for me. While at university I not only had structure, I had purpose. I was there to gain knowledge and to have my beliefs challenged.

When I graduated, all of this changed. I didn’t have deadlines or thesis meetings or classes. No longer was I in mentally stimulating environments. Instead, I had to find a job to support myself. I had to choose what to do with the hours in my days. I had to intentionally make plans to spend time with my friends. Suddenly, I had a lot of time on my hands and a lot of worries to fill that time.

This is where I stumbled. This is where my faith and my belief in the power of prayer had no choice but to come in. This is where I realized that if I was left to fend for myself, I had no chance at succeeding, let alone surviving.

It was at this point I was reminded of Luke 22:46, which says, “Why are you sleeping?…Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” This verse is taken from the scene when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating drops of blood, while His disciples are dozing on the sidelines. Though my situation is not at all the same, I have been challenged to pray rather than sit around and worry about my future.

Without prayer, my life became filled with temptation. My temptation came in the form of wasting time: watching useless TV shows, sleeping until noon, and spending mindless hours on Facebook. However, as I am learning how to pray, my life has renewed purpose. The more I communicate with God, the closer I grow to Him. The more I pray for others, the closer I feel to them and their situations.

Praying, therefore, wakes me up. It helps me focus on what is important: my relationships with God and people, and how I spend my time.

Prayer is the beginning. It helps me to get up in the morning. But I can’t expect God to radically step in and make my life perfect just because I am praying that He will. I have to go out and do something as well.

My experiences as a student gave me confident perspectives, opinions, and skills. With God’s help, I am learning how to use these in everyday life. I can take the confidence in my abilities into job interviews. The organizational skills I learned while juggling courses and managing a newspaper are put to good use as I organize my week around a part-time job, writing assignments, paying bills, and my social life.

Although nothing can sufficiently prepare us for entering the real world, for me, remembering to pray is key. As Paul says in Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Even in the real world.