The Secret No One Tells You about the “Real World”

Photo Credit: Andreas Komodromos Flickr via Compfight cc


We were all lied to when we were told we could be anything we wanted to be right out of the gates.

That the possibilities were endless and that all our dreams would come true if we just worked hard enough.

Reality Check:

Just because you work hard doesn’t mean your dreams will come true. 

In the real world there aren’t any do-overs.

In the real world there are tears and blood.

In the real world the air is so tight that sometimes I forget to breathe.



It’s taken me a long time to realize the secret – the “how to” in making my dreams a reality.

It’s not about intelligence, and it’s not about money.  It’s not even about beauty or age.

It’s about awareness.

It’s about realizing what systems I’m a part of and figuring out how they work.  It’s about mechanically separating the parts and figuring out how they fit back together.

Only then does this “Real World” become a tangible thing-something I can step back from and observe, before making a move.



A system is a set of rules and procedures put in place to accomplish a particular goal.

We all have our own personal systems, the little rules that we use to make sense of and run our personal life and how we relate to others.

The Real World is a result of everyone’s systems colliding, crashing and burning, creating bigger systems that serve individual and personal interests.

If someone doesn’t know how the system works, or which rules govern it, they can easily become overwhelmed and intimidated.  But once they get to know the rules and understand the basic components, they can understand how each piece fits into the overall goal.

It’s easy to get lost if we continue to look at the hundreds of colliding systems as the scary Real World and not as it truly is- the compilation of individual systems.


My students would do a project on the Real World, and they would frequently tell me that they were scared shitless because adults use phrases like, “real world,” and sayings like, “you’ll see,” and, “It’s harder than you think.”

Why does no one tell them?  Why when we find out do we hide it away like it’s our big secret?  Is it because we’ve struggled so much, now it’s their turn?

How many of you would have liked to know earlier on that you weren’t alone when you didn’t know what to do?

Personally, that would have saved me years of feeling trapped, thinking I was the only stupid one without the secret of how to be an adult.  Now that I know, I’ll shout it from the rooftops.

Now that I understand that everything is made up of systems, I can step back and watch the systems at play before deciding which ones I’ll be part of.  Now I have the mindfulness to choose what parts to focus on and what to let go of.



There is hope.  You don’t have to give in to the illusion that you’ll never win – that you’re always trapped.  The real world is a system, a structure of people set in place by other people.  And they aren’t smarter than you.  They aren’t better than you.  They’ve learned how to play the game.

I’ve spent years thinking my life couldn’t change, that I’d be forever trapped in the systems I’d become part of.  But I’m finding the cracks, slowly but surely.  And I’m making significant changes in my mindset and focus.  I’m seeing my dreams shine through and I’m realizing I can choose what I’m a part of and create a better version of me.

Maybe you have a job you hate.

Maybe you are constantly questioning why you can never get a break.

Just because you’ve always been part of something, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.  Decide what you really want and which systems are holding you back from reaching your goals.  Take a step back and observe how your systems are run, which rules make them up, fair and unfair, easy and hard.  Choose new systems that help you reach you goals, or find cracks within the systems you’re a part of that give you some breathing room.


The Real World does not have to be a scary place.

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