When people would tell you as a kid about the “real world,” what did you think it was?
When I read your question I honestly chuckled because I could immediately see floating images in my mind of the hundreds of times I heard those words from my maternal grandma growing up.
My grandmother was what you would call “rough around the edges.” My grandma never baked cookies or rolled out pie crust for homemade pies.
She was a straight shooter so when she warned me about something once, the next thing out of her mouth would always be, “You gone see when you get out there in the real world.”
For me, I had fantasized about the real world. It was a magical place where I did what I wanted, when I wanted and, how I wanted. There were no rules. The real world was a place where I had autonomy to do as I pleased.
What my grandma was trying to tell me was that there would be rules and consequences to my actions. Grandma was trying to tell me that the real world was a cold place. A place where anything I did would either benefit me or be a barrier to me getting where I was trying to go in life.
What I later learned was that in the real world the grass is not as green as it was in my imagination.
Life wasn’t always about what I wanted when I wanted it.
In fact, it rarely works that way. There are so many external circumstances at play, that are out of my control. So many so that I had better think twice when making decisions about the things that I do have control over.
As I have become older I also realize that my Grandma’s real world was very different than mine having grown up in the fields of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and later spending her 20s in Chicago in the 1950s.
My grandmother’s real world was one in which people like us weren’t safe and we weren’t able to make the same mistakes as others had as the consequences would be grave.
I understand what she went through, and I know that she wanted the best for me. She was trying to protect me from the real world and myself.
The “real world” for me is a mixture of my grandma’s world and her experiences and it is a mixture of many beautiful things.
Soul to soul,
Dear Kiantha can be read Fridays in The Spokesman-Review. To read this column in Spanish, visit www.spokesman.com. To submit a question, please email DearKiantha@gmail.com.