“So, do the guys at school ask you to frat parties?” my friend recently asked me.
“No,” I replied. “They open the door for me and call me ‘ma’am.'”
As I turned 34, I decided to treat myself to an extravagant gift, an education. I decided to go back to school after 10 years. I wasn’t able to finish my degree—basically due to life circumstances, and it has always been something that bothered me. Would I like a job that compliments a degree I hold? Sure, but mostly I want to be educated.
As a non-traditional student, which is a really diplomatic way of saying YOU ARE OLD, it has been interesting navigating through school.
I do not understand SnapChat, or Kendrick Lamar. I come from a time when we folded crazy notes and passed them to each other by hand. I am more of a 2Pac kind of girl and would rather not ever wear mom jeans. As someone who is usually the oldest person in class, I have been exposed to all sorts of things. I think this experience made me realize just how old I really am. In a world full of whippersnappers, I am the only one who knows who Punky Brewster is.
Now that I am a year into school, I laugh at the thought of how intimidated I was of university. The thought of campus made my stomach hurt. Literally. I could not imagine myself in a classroom listening to someone with a PhD. I expected to be scoffed at, asked what I was doing there, who I thought I was infringing on the lives of these young people. That hasn’t happened, of course. We are all just in a big lecture hall together trying to absorb all the knowledge possible. I usually manage to make a little buddy in each class I am in, which is actually really nice. If they need mom advice, I can provide that. Regardless of the fact that I am childless. At thirty four, I have been around and I can provide some perspective on what it’s like to have a mortgage and car insurance. I’m a real life adult.
I was taken aback slightly due to the swearing. I remember being that age and the thought of saying the F word in front of an elder was just unheard of, UNTHOUGHT of. I would have been too embarrassed and I couldn’t imagine being that disrespectful. The students today let them fly pretty casually and it makes me laugh. I was also stricken by some of the great minds I have encountered so far. I have heard some of the brightest ideas and thoughts come from these young minds and it gives me hope for our future. Hope that there is intelligence and people who are able to make changes for a better world.
I think America’s emphasis on preserving youth and making women feel ashamed that they are aging is still prevalent in our society. We are told that wrinkles should be erased, stretch marks should disappear. The cruelest thing nature has done to me so far is the bingo wing and if you don’t know what I am talking about, you will soon. It’s inevitable.
As a non-traditional student, or old person, I really think I appreciate the experience more and will get more out of it. I know what my goals are and I honestly believe it was meant to happen this way.
My education is important to me. Regardless of my age, my wrinkles or my need for elastic pants and Velcro shoes. We are all entitled to better ourselves.