Undergrad at 28

by Iman Zaitoun 8 months ago in college

Now you know you’re not the only almost 30 yr old

Undergrad at 28

Now when you think of university, a picture of someone in their late teens or early twenties comes to mind. Theeeen there’s me, a 28-year-old fourth year, who won't graduate until she's 29

*cue music from Drew Barrymore's Never Been Kissed’*

Now a little back story: I, Iman, had previously been to uni in a different country. I had completed 3/4 of my undergrad right on “schedule,” when a war broke out in said country. This, of course, brought me back home to Canada, where my only options were to work a dead end job with no real future or go back to school at so-called “old lady” age and start fresh. So that’s what I did!

The first year I can definitely say was the worst. Of course, all first years are nervous and unsure about what they want to do with their degrees and lives. For me, it wasn't only that confused and lost feeling, but also the feeling of already being behind in a race I had made up in my head. “At least you're still 18!” I wanted to scream at them. “You’re right where you’re supposed to be."

I already dealt with anxiety and was an introvert. Then I had added this urgency to be somewhere else and be doing more; not realizing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be at the right time for me.

It wasn't until probably half way through my second year that I decided that I needed to change. I needed to bring out the (somewhat) confident Iman that had gone through that 19 to 24 year old phase, and had so much knowledge about it already.

I found myself little by little speaking up in those scary 300 person classes, in those equally scary 20 person classes, and trying to make friends along the way. Of course this change didn’t happen overnight, and I had my days of overthinking, of “Why did I say that?” or “I’m pretty sure I was really awkward during that conversation.”

However, I learned a lot from my younger peers—they were winging it just as much as I was, and they were not the ‘mean girls’ I had imagined them to be.

My personal experience as a mature undergrad has brought with it uncertainty and anxiety I thought I’d left behind 10 years ago when I was 18. Try presenting to an audience of smart, 'we can rule the world' 20 year olds who seem like they have their lives together more than you do, and believe me, it’s a whole other level of anxiety. But once I decided to take the opportunities available to me just as much as anyone else, a whole other world was opened up, and somehow, people seven, eight, and even 10 years younger than me seemed more relatable. Don’t underestimate these youngsters; although they seem intimidating, they are more welcoming and sincere than their Instagram accounts give them credit for.

Iman Zaitoun
Iman Zaitoun
Read next: The Unconventional College Life
Iman Zaitoun
See all posts by Iman Zaitoun