One of the top rock songs in the country right now is “Ain’t It Fun,” a catchy tune by the Tennessee band Paramore — parents might not know it, but it’s a good bet that their kids do.
In a nutshell, it’s a song about growing up and living in what we adults (sometimes laughingly) refer to as “the real world.” That’s why we bet that if you’re paying attention, you can hear this song somewhere in the background at the various graduation ceremonies now going on throughout the mid-valley.
“Ain’t It Fun” is a classic slice of pop-rock, right down to the cheery, propulsive melody and surprisingly blunt lyrics: “You’re not the big fish in the pond no more,” singer Hayley Williams booms. “So what are you gonna do when the world don’t orbit around you?“
In fact — and this is something that might provoke parents everywhere to download “Ain’t It Fun” for themselves — the song builds to this gospel-tinged sing-along line: “Don’t go crying to your mama ’cause you’re on your own in the real world.”
Now that we’re in the middle of graduation season, thousands of mid-valley students are a step or two closer to “the real world.” It’s always telling that we call these graduation ceremonies “commencements,” as a signal to all of us that the ceremony marks not an ending, but a beginning.
It’s a time to celebrate real accomplishments — and, of course, a time to glance nervously at what the future might hold.
And, to paraphrase Paramore once more, it may not always be fun.
Today’s graduates are moving into a world that still is uncertain economically — and the job market, as we noted in an editorial last week, can be particularly harsh for younger workers. The unemployment rate for workers ages 20 to 24 in Oregon in 2013 was 12.5 percent, 3 percentage points higher than the state rate.
And statistics from the Pew Research Center suggest that more than a third (34 percent) of Americans aged 18 to 32 lived at home in 2013.
So we can understand why this year’s graduates may be feeling a little uncertain as they stride across school stages to accept their diploma. And we wish we could tell graduates that life will be all sunny skies and singing birds, like at the end of an animated Disney movie, as soon as they grab the sheepskin. But everyone knows that’s not true.
But there is something else: Despite what the Paramore song says, graduates won’t be wandering out into the real world alone. Friends and co-workers — yes, even parents — are along for the ride as well, ready to help, whether it’s with advice or a shoulder to weep upon or, possibly, even a place to crash while this month’s graduates sort out the realities of a scary (and rapidly changing) world.
One last thing: It turns out it can be kind of fun, out here in the real world. Welcome, graduates. (mm)