January 16, 2018
“Only a few months to go and you’ll be finished and out in ‘The Real World’.”
“Oh, you’ve finished Uni now? Welcome to ‘The Real World’.”
What were these people talking about?
The first comment came from a University tutor. The second, from a PT at the gym. Both were made over 10 years ago as I was finishing University.
They’re just two of the comments I can remember, but if I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned ‘The Real World’, I wouldn’t have needed to look for a graduate job. You see I was about to enter this world (I don’t know where I’d been living those previous 22 years!) and the future didn’t look too rosy. In ‘The Real World’, I’d have to…
• Work 50+ hours a week for the next 40+ years of my life. There was a good chance I wouldn’t enjoy this time because most people don’t. According to a Right Management survey, only 19% of employed people in the US and Canada reported being ‘satisfied’ with their work.
• Accept this economic servitude because there were things like mortgages, rent, rates and pensions that needed to be paid for.
• Treat the people in my life like commodities, either there to be manipulated to my advantage or used to prevent loneliness or the social humiliation of being a loner.
• Accept there wouldn’t be much meaning to my life beyond making money to survive. Sure, I’d get to purchase a few luxury consumer items that were apparently going to make me happy (if you believe the adverts) and take a vacation (or maybe two if I was lucky) each year, but, on the whole, I was going to be too stressed out to enjoy or appreciate life and raising a family.
This was ‘The Real World’, where dreams of a happy, exciting and meaningful life were just fantasies. Reality was a long list of written and unwritten rules I had to follow and expectations I had to meet.
Was I scared of entering this world?
Yes and no.
While I honestly think I’d have chosen death over this mind-numbing, soul-sapping half-life, even back then I didn’t believe I was compelled to conform.
You see, I’d watched a movie that had a profound impact on my consciousness and left me with a feeling that there was something wrong with reality. This movie was The Matrix, and although fictional, it offers the perfect portrayal of how a false reality can be imposed on an unsuspecting population.
For a moment, I want you to suspend all rational thought and pretend that The Matrix is real. I want you to put yourself in the position of Neo, take a trip down the rabbit hole, and discover how it’s limiting your life.
Your first step on this journey is to realize that society’s concept of ‘The Real World’ is very similar to the computer-generated reality in which Neo inhabits. Both have their rules and regulations, programs, and modes of operating and both are accepted as the truth about the way the world works.
In fact, it’s this assumption of truth that makes these realities so dangerous. With it comes the acceptance that no other way of living could be possible, i.e. we couldn’t have an economic system based on cooperation rather than competition or it’s not possible for a person to be happy all of the time.
These commonly held assumptions, which we mistakenly think of as truth, crush our potential and blind us from the joy of how our life could be. For if we don’t believe something is possible, then we won’t even try to change it and create something better.
This is what happens when you accept ‘The Real World’. Your horizons shrink and your outlook only permits for a very narrow spectrum of possibilities. You may feel deeply unfulfilled by these possibilities and frustrated with the life that has been presented to you, but you don’t believe there’s anything you can do about it.
As a result, your attitude becomes one of, “This is life. This is how the world works. I’ve just got to adapt to it and do the best I can to get by.” Your life then becomes one of boredom, where you have an inability to express who you truly are or what you’re really here to do.
But is ‘The Real World’ all there is to life?
Are you forever doomed to the role The System gives you, or can you break free?
Are you ‘The One’?
The Matrix metaphor should go some way to explaining why you should never live in ‘The Real World’. It also provides a glimpse of what happens when you unplug. Far from facilitating the disaster that our parents, teachers and peers have led us to believe, rejecting ‘The Real World’ appears to be the gateway to an extraordinary life.
We see this in The Matrix when Neo learns kung fu in a matter of hours, can jump buildings, and discovers that his only limits are the ones in his mind. We see it in our world through the extraordinary achievements of the rebels who refuse to live by the status quo. For instance,
• Galileo discovering evidence to support the theory that the earth rotated around the sun and turning the Christian world’s geocentric paradigm on its head.
• Nelson Mandela relentlessly campaigning for justice, eventually emancipating a nation and overcoming an entire political regime.
• Emmeline Pankhurst refusing to accept the conventional wisdom of the day that women weren’t responsible enough to vote, and improving the rights of women throughout the world.
All of these outstanding achievers had one thing in common: they didn’t live in ‘The Real World’. In fact, they occupied an entirely different space. In their realities, notions of whether something was acceptable or possible didn’t exist and, as a result, there was nothing to clip their wings and prevent them from realizing their unique destinies.
Could the same apply to you?
What could you achieve if you refused to accept the outlooks, attitudes and beliefs that hold so many people back?
• Perhaps it’s a belief that you’re too old to pursue your dream and that you should be thinking about retirement and your pension fund.
• Perhaps it’s the notion that only a tiny percentage of people succeed when setting up their own business or pursuing their dream.
• Perhaps it’s a belief that you have a terminal illness that simply can’t be healed.
Whatever it is, you must remember that these notions and beliefs have been imposed upon you — it’s ‘The Real World’ talking.
Reject them, and a world of your own creation, where happiness and fulfillment are within your grasp, is waiting for you to claim.