Dec 10 Real life?

Dec. 10, 2009, 3:36 p.m. (ET)

I'm intrigued by people's relationships with a little thing called "real life." Now, I'm real and alive, so I suppose technically, I'm part of this real life business. But, not really.

Essentially, I live the life of a retiree... at 21, and without any money. By no means am I complaining, no, I love my life, but real life is something I'd like to understand a little better. My reality is much different than most people's and I'm just curious.

Almost all of my friends went the traditional college route after high school. I did not, and I don't feel like I missed out on anything at all. (Read my post about The Gypsy Life for more deets.) Now though, they're all thinking about internships, salaries, grad school and higher higher education.

I go to fake school. Mobile school. Community college. School of convenience. Instead of a focus on pursuing education or being able to support myself, I chose to dress in stretchy shorts and ride a bicycle everyday. Let me say, it was a phenomenal decision.

This alternate reality that I live in started when I decided to be an athlete, move to the Olympic Training Center and live in a fish bowl. In early January, I'll reach my three year anniversary at the training center. They've been the best three years of my life.

Of course there are sucky parts to being an athlete like wanting to cry or throw up in training, and the countless hours spent in airports around the world with the sickest, smelliest people imaginable, but there are far more positives.

I get to do what I love, and while I don't make much money at all, it's what I love to do. We meet tons of people, travel the world on someone else's dime, push our bodies and minds to the limit and get to represent the United States of America.

Each day I wake up on my own, eat breakfast, train, eat lunch, tune in to mobile school, train, eat dinner, a little more mobile school, go to sleep. I never watch the news, rarely read the paper, and change the station in search of music when the radio goes to the news segments. I don't have to take care of anything other than a few plants, and even that has proved difficult at times. All my financial stuff is set up to go automatically, and the only bill I have is for my cell phone.

Now though, I'm visiting family in Chicago where I'm as close to "real life" as I've been in a while. I'm using my sister's car which means I drop her off at school in the morning and pick her up. The dog needs to be walked, dishes washed, floors vacuumed and groceries purchased. What is this?!

The past week has been a real eye opener, and actually it's been quite nice. Finally I get a taste of what everyone else does during the day, well, beside that four letter word "work." Reading the paper with a glass of apple juice, eating an eggo waffle made me feel the slightest bit sophisticated. Then I got bored. But they say it's the effort that counts right? Sure. While real life is nice, it's like New York City: good for a visit, but not forever. My alternate reality will be nice to go back to.

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