Real World: Season Zero

A couple months ago I turned nineteen. Most say that nineteen is fairly inconsequential. We've already reached legality - that was so last birthday. Nineteen doesn't bring any newfound rites: we're at that awkward median of teenagedom and adulthood.  As a general population, us nineteen-year-olds uncomfortably tow the line between idiotically debauched house parties and awkwardly attempted classy affairs; barely-earned-parent-supplied-allowances and practically-slave-labor-earned-paychecks. Nineteen has already given me an unexpected and unusual sense of adulthood.

Signs of Adulthood (with Cailin Lowry):

  • First legitimate paychecks (and hard earned at that!)
  • Buying own food (good-bye hot meals!)
  • Shopping for first apartment (forget the fact that my parents are paying my rent!)
  • Higher indicators of maturity (comes face-to-face with issues!)
  • Turning nineteen (barely even a teenager!)
In theory this whole being-nineteen-and-kind-of-fending-for-myself schtick should equate to finally being in the mystical Real World. (See How I Capitalized for Importance?)

Ah yes: The Real World. That mystical realm beyond high school (and perhaps, as I'm noticing, beyond first world problems).

The channel that is still somehow known as Music Television may be on Season 25, but at nineteen it still feels out of reach. I used to hate when people half a decade older would practically pat me on the head, with sighs of Real World worries. How condescending! I humphed as I chowed down on homemade meals and snuggled into my impossibly comfortable bed. This - yes this - with rudimentary homework and fickle friends as life's paramount worries, seemed like the realest of worlds. The overwhelming independence of college made me one of those patronizing pseudo-adults: "Oh, high school is hard?! You don't even know." I became - to my embarrassment - a Real World sigher. In theory I had reached it - what with paying for my own groceries, managing my own time, and my life having come an actual "Choose Your Own Adventure!" story. But there are always headlines that make me doubt that the Real World even exists: insatiable hunger in Somalia, senseless riots in the UK, collapsing economies. How can my world of college libraries and comfortable apartments be "real" scenarios (you know, living the big time, finally growing up) when all this is happening on a daily basis?

Either everything is Real World - famines, buying books for college, sleeping in fluffy beds, war, insipid crushes, rioting, celebrity culture - or nothing at all. I prefer to think the latter: the Real World is an accepted state of mind, a purely subjective final destination. I'd prefer live in the ever-changing fantasy. Welcome to Real World: Season Zero, it's wonderful to meet you.