It’s a tough world out there

Not granted a speaking appointment at the graduation ceremonies this year despite my obvious reputation as a qualified, albeit na•ve and short-sighted, orator, I longed for a place to impart my wisdom.

Speaking, as it were, never was my milieu. I had a high school valedictorian speech disallowed for content reasons, I stuttered terribly in public speaking class and I blanked when asked to declare myself at the voting booths. The newspaper, it seems, is my muted calling.

But in whatever medium I had chosen (or in actuality was chosen for me) I would have preached the same message: The real world is a hard place.

But not only that, the real world is also a place that SPU has striven to prepare its students for. Did the institution succeed? As a graduating senior, I can say with confidence, "I sure hope so."

And who better to judge the effectiveness of SPU’s prepatory campaign than a senior commissioned to face the real world? OK, maybe an alumnus would be better qualified. Or a researcher. But after those people, I am certainly next on the list.

And despite the fact that I have only been here three years (I’m a transfer), I didn’t put all my effort into my classes (I’m a slacker), and I have a limited view of what the real world is truly like (I’m an Idahoan), I do know a thing or two about the realities of life.

I sat and listened to story after story from my father about how tough the real world is and that there are no hand-outs after college. I’ve seen books and magazines dedicated to helping college seniors transition into adult life. And I watched in agony as the cast of "Boy Meets World" graduated from college and faced the heartbreak of reality.

With this knowledge, I think it would be only appropriate to examine several SPU experiences that have shaped students here. As you will see, some of them did a fine job preparing students for the real world. Others offered a mere distraction. But all of them were part of the SPU experience.

First off, if anyone has ever lost a term paper on your computer, rejoice because this is what the real world is like. The only difference is that instead of getting an extension to write another one, you get fired.

Likewise, the frustration of wanting ice cream at the cafeteria but seeing that the machine is broken is a real world emotion. Except it is rarely the ice cream machine that is broken, because there is no ice cream in the real world. There are, however, cars that break, dishwashers that break and toilets that break.

One thing you will not see in the real world is Shapadooah. Street fairs devoted to having fun and mooching off of the university fade away soon after graduating. So, too, does free cable. And for that matter, free Internet. Not to mention, free gas, water and electricity. In fact, there is pretty much nothing free in the real world — except hard lessons.

Which is why there is no alcohol policy in the real world. In the real world, people drink during their hard times. And then they drink during their good times. And then they have alcohol poisoning. It’s really a vicious cycle.

It’s a good thing that SPU has made the effort to prepare us for some of those alcohol-related problems. Looking for parking spaces near campus can be veritably fruitless just like planning for your retirement. Not getting the classes you want can be frustrating just like credit card payments. And getting in trouble for downloading music can be irritating just like menopause and mid-life crises.

Seattle Pacific has also given its students a lift by preparing us for the injustices of the real world — namely discrimination. Emerson kids have traditionally had that air of "my private bathroom and I are better than you." Oddly enough, there are people just like this in the real world. They flaunt their Jaguars and their Rolexes and their summer homes. Meanwhile, we Hill, Ashton, Moyer and apartment dwellers hoard our pre-owned Hondas, digital Timexes and two-for-one Holiday Inn coupons.

The real world will not be without fun, though, and that is why I am thankful to Associated Students of Seattle Pacific (ASSP) for prepping us for the wild life to come. ASSP parties, which usually include live music, free stuff and good-looking people, aren’t exactly the same kind we will encounter in the real world. Our parties might have more of a lite-hits-of-the-eighties-build-your-own-potato-bar-extended-family feel to them. I find it comforting to know, however, that there will at least be parties — even lame ones at the least.

Alas, not everything that SPU has taught us will be relevant in the real world. There are no such things as platinum meal plans, living area sweatshirts or summer and spring breaks. No one plants flowers when new people come to visit. There is not a Seven-Eleven within walking distance of anywhere you might live.

And the real world certainly has a less culturally homogenous surrounding.

Having looked at several SPU experiences, I feel that, overall, the university has passed the test of getting its seniors ready to face life after college. The road will certainly not be easy or straight or paved, for that matter, but it will lead somewhere rewarding.

I for one am excited to begin my new life as a college graduate with a well-paying, influential job, loving wife, 2.5 kids, three bedroom-two bath home and financial security.

But as we all know, it is not the material things that matter most; it is the bigger picture. And there is no greater goal to have than coming back to SPU for a 10-year reunion, meeting old classmates and friends and being able to stand up proudly and say:

"Culture engaged? Check.

"World changed? I’m working on it."

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Title: It’s a tough world out there | Author: Kevan Lee | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2005-06-01 | Internal ID: 4581