Three words I really hate: THE REAL WORLD. I've been a student virtually all of my life. Since the age of four with one year off for good behavior. So I've heard this phrase a lot, especially since I became an 'adult' at the age of 18. At the age of 18, I moved out of my parents home never to return and went to school, paying most of my way with scholarships that I earned and loans that I am now paying back.
My year off, immediately after college, wasn't spent touring around Europe on a trust fund or lounging on beaches surfing all day because that part of the world just wasn't that expensive. I moved out of state, got a job and starting getting ready for grad school.
In grad school, I started to understand a little of what people were saying, because the difficulty level went up considerably over college and even over working full time. Life was hard - I don't even like to think of how hard! But that's not even what people meant by THE REAL WORLD.
I think they just mean their world. Whatever their world looks like - whatever grim stressers present themselves to that person every day. If working at jobs I love in a city that thrives is the real world, I'll take it. Yes, I can't wait to get into the real world - I can't wait to be paid a living wage for every hour that I've worked and have my free time be my own without guilt that I should be studying. I can't wait to be able to schedule my vacations any time I want and not just during Christmas or summer holidays.
My very good friend S pointed out that the people who say "wait until..." are the same people who say "enjoy it while you're young" and they are just jealous. I like her advise, which is to just say "I love you even though you're jealous." And I would add, "Just you wait until I'm in the real world!"