Every Part of Your Life Is Real
You know how sometimes you find yourself losing patience for something, entirely without warning? Yeah. I’ve lost patience with the phrase “real life.”
It’s an extension of the gripe I had when I was in graduate school, about people referring to academia as “the ivory tower” — as if a job there was somehow not a (hmm, this sounds familiar) a real job. Trust me, universities have just as much in the way of politics and bureaucracy and such things as any other workplace. People in them do work, get paid money . . . just like people do in a corporation or store.
Lately I’ve seen writers talking about how “real life” has distracted them from writing. I’m not just talking about hobbyists (though my point would stand even if I were); I’m talking about professionals, for whom writing is, if not their sole job, at least one they file taxes for. Why is that part of their lives somehow less valid than the rest of it? I hear people saying the same thing when they talk about things in contrast with their hobbies. What exactly is real life, anyway?
I don’t think there’s a single answer. People use the phrase in a lot of different ways, for a lot of different reasons. Work is real life and hobbies aren’t, because work isn’t fun, and we all know (thank you, Puritans) that fun things are of the devil. If work is fun, it becomes not-real. Trouble is real. The things you can’t get away from are real. But all the rest of it . . . that doesn’t count. You have to deprecate it, apologize for devoting energy and attention to it, because it’s a diversion and therefore fake.
I say, screw that. Every part of your life is real. Even the optional parts, and the ones you enjoy. I’m not saying there isn’t any such thing as prioritization; obviously some things demand or deserve more investment from you. But that doesn’t make them more real — just more important. Let’s say what we actually mean, and not something else, that makes people feel like the things they care about are for some reason invalid.
My job and my hobbies, almost everything I do, involves imaginary people and events. But that doesn’t make my life not real.