The Real World Myth – Is someone else’s reality holding you back? (Part 2)

Common: Subscribing to traditional beliefs about a universal reality with predetermined parameters about what is practical and possible.

Uncommon: From a young age we’re told tales of this daunting place called the “real world.”  It’s a place where practicality always trumps imagination and undaunted ambition.  “Better dream now and enjoy it,” we’re implicitly told, “because when you grow up you’ll realize that things don’t work that way in the real world.”

Advice about the “real world” may come with good intentions, but that doesn’t make it accurate.  What someone else finds true need not become your dogma.

With boundless aspirations emerging as a teen, I encountered many people who tired to rein me into their “real world” with the following cautionary counsel:

  • Teens don’t/can’t write books. (i.e.: You’re only kidding yourself)
  • There is no money in writing.
  • Blogging is a waste of time.
  • Most businesses fail. (i.e. yours will too)
  • Job security is more important than job independence. (i.e.: Get a real job like the rest of us)
  • You can’t run two businesses while taking 18 units at a university and maintain a position on the Dean’s List.
  • You can’t sell a product or service without advertising.
  • You won’t get investors’ money as an early twenty-something.
  • You can’t work remotely from anywhere in the world and run a business.

The list goes on and I’m sure you can add many more from your own experience, but this type of cautionary counsel is less about fact and more of an outward reflection of an inner belief or opinion based on personal points of reference.  What may be “real” for one person does not mean we are all forced to live there too.

On a personal note, I’m glad I questioned the advice outlined above, because each warning proved to be fallacious in my world.  Without first testing my own intuition, I would have quickly found myself living in someone else’s “real world” – a place much more limiting than my own.

Perception has consequences:

Of course, not all cautionary counsel is bad, but it pays to objectively examine it before adopting it as your own because as Thomas Theorem states, what is defined as real, becomes real in its consequences.  In other words, our beliefs about the real world create the supporting evidence to maintain the idea we have about how things “are” or “should be.”

If there were such a thing as a “real world test,” it would have nothing to do with the results of other people.  What matters most is what matters to you and what works for you. All other data is irrelevant.


Learn from and listen to others, but don’t curb your enthusiasm, creativity, or boldness due to an intimidating narrative you’ve heard since childhood.  Simply because an idea is uncommon or untraditional does not mean it will fail in the “real world.”

Fortune favors the bold:

In today’s world, adaptation and change are the only constants. This is evident in the popular mantra: What got you here won’t get you there.  This is why innovation or experimentation is not only the wiser option, but a necessary one.  Or as Seth Godin would say, “Safe is risky.”

The real world is not as threatening as it’s made out to be.  The problem is, it’s a place heavily populated with skeptics and cynics who unknowingly endorse the status quo because they find comfort in doing what is popular or common.

Don’t “get real” in light of someone else’s definition of the “real world.”  Instead, get serious about what matters to you.  The people who urge you to be more “realistic” generally want you to accept their rules of reality.  If you let others set the parameters of possibility, they will. But this should be your job, no one else’s.

What are your thoughts?

Do you have a story you’d like to share about the “real world?”  What are your thoughts on this topic? Would love to hear from you.

In case you missed it: Read Part 1 here.

Stay uncommon,

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