Review: Delaying The Real World by Colleen Kinder

So you’re in your twenties, done with college or university, and thinking of your next step. How to apply for a job, how to take out a mortgage to buy a house, how to choose a car, how to decorate your cubicle…

Or would you rather think about how to get good plane tickets to get you to South America to volunteer with a small village? Or how to get swimming lessons in preparation for your job as a performer on board a cruise ship in the Caribbean? Or how to make good lesson plans for the group of inner-city high school students for your year as a city teacher?

Colleen Kinder’s Delaying The Real World argues that youths do not have to immediately enter the typical workforce – bosses, cubicles, menial tasks. Instead, she advocates a fuller lifestyle involving adventure, social development, and creativity.

The book is filled with plenty of ideas and tips for those seeking something else to do with their lives. It is divided into a few sections: looking for your dream city, working abroad, outdoor jobs, travel jobs, social change work, arts & entertainment, and doing all of the above in your own “backyard” (or hometown). In each section there are general tips, testimonials and anecdotes, and links to specific programs. There are also tips and ideas on issues such as saving money, looking for legitimate and affordable programs, and even mentally preparing yourself, as well as plenty of resources.

The people profiled in this book have taken on all sorts of opportunities – from bartending in the summer in Alaska, to interning in a Cambodian newspaper, to being a professional “ski bum” by teaching skiing in Colorado. It’s really inspiring to hear from young people of all temperaments and backgrounds who have taken that bold leap to do something different with their lives.

There is also an accompanying website if you would like more ideas or discussion of your options. The website also offered a fellowship for youths who want funding for their “real-world-delaying” ideas; however, it’s not clear whether the fellowship program is still on.

While most of the programs, resources, and tips are US-centric (and not all are open to those outside the USA), and the book is mainly geared towards twenty-somethings fresh out of tertiary study, there is still plenty of useful inspiration and incentive for everyone to explore their options and think of life beyond an office, regardless of age or location. Indeed, instead of “delaying” the real world, this may actually encourage you to explore the real world for what it is – away from the confines of those cubicle walls.

Delaying The Real World is available online and in most bookstores.

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