The phrase “It will look good on your resume” is an obviously dangerous but shockingly acceptable modern idiom that taints the real beauty of the world. Yet somehow, it is accepted (even expected) as a simple, semi-folksy phrase that we can use to remind us of both the benefits of hard work and the ever-changing pace of those infamously cruel winds that constantly whip in that fantastic field that has to exist, somewhere.
The “real world” (anything that happens to you after the age of 24) is supposedly scary, filled with crushed dreams and esoteric truths reprimanding us when we least expect it. You can’t prepare enough! Who knows what’s out there? Certainly not college students.
This healthy fear of the “real world” is not just expected as a young adult, it’s enforced—perpetually (and shamelessly)—by everyone who believes in it. We tell each other, with stoic faces, that jobs are hard to get; we need to constantly, vigilantly, groom our professional appearance with a fine tooth comb.
Everyone has their own brand of advice. “Take down those Facebook photos!” “Do community service!” “Join student government!” “Get a 4.0!” “Write an essay for that contest!” “Make contacts!”
Our resumes are presented as saviors, life rafts in the apparently turbulent seas of the real world. College represents the final four years of raft building.
The more scared you are, the faster you build your raft.
And when building your raft, there are a few things that you have to keep in mind. First, be original! Not real originality though. It doesn’t matter who you actually are. You need a utilitarian originality; something that will really sail fast. And you always need to remember to build the type of raft that will float in the current sea conditions! This is very important. You don’t want to build a raft based on personal preference. This type of raft usually won’t float; it is foolish to even try. And get as many accessories as you can!—Christmas lights, bicycle horn, nun-chucks, beer-helmet, anything! The more stuff you can put onto your raft the better off you will be! And finally, (this is the most important part), don’t, under any circumstances, believe the conspiracy theories that say that the seas of the “real world” are only two feet deep. The water is 100 feet deep, with crazy monsters that will eat you. And even if the seas were two feet deep, you can drown in two feet of water, right!? So build that raft!
To subscribe to the philosophy of fearing the supposedly scary “real world” (while rejecting the embrace of the loving, “real world”) and act on it by padding your resume (building your raft) isn’t just inherently selfish, it’s unfathomably destructive. Crafting a fake picture of who you are on paper waters down real truth and creates a society where professional life is viewed as a separate, overly serious extension of your real life that has nothing to do with your soul and everything to do with the productivity and efficiency of the machine.
The truth is the world is not scary. In fact, the world is kind of beautiful. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a frenetically idealist 21 year old who believes in the whole “do what you love” thing. I think I’m actually being objective. The world is beautiful.
All I’m saying is, whatever you want to be, be that. Keep a resume, sure. Employers need something to figure out who you are. But if you want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, that’s fine! Learn how to do that. If you want to live at a ski resort and teach people how to ski, that’s fine! Learn how to do that. If you want to be an artist, a chef, dentist, etc. Do what you love! Nothing else.
We live in a society full of expectations; some good (be kind, be vulnerable when need be, always be truthful, never hurt anyone, etc.) and some stupid (work hard, have discipline, five pages, high GPA and SAT scores, secure finances, 5 p.m. deadline, etc.) You can tell the real expectations from the stupid expectations because the real ones can’t be measured.
Concentrating on your resume and all of those other stupid (and ultimately selfish) expectations in life wastes valuable mental energy that you could be using to appreciate the people you are around and the moment you’re in.
Dylan Morrill can be contacted at