Eek, I feel a bit out of place in class.
I arrived yesterday and immediately began to assess my classmates. This wasn't the kind of assessment carried out for the purpose of judging or private mocking. This was all about me: I needed to know if it was obvious to these college freshman that it had been (ahem) fifteen years since I was a freshman. Oh yes, it was obvious. At least it was to me.
Feeling a tad jumpy, I alternated between wanting to hide in the back with wanting to introduce myself to everyone. Hi! I'm a thirty-three year old recovering PhD student looking for a new career and I'm beginning right here in this Introduction to Linguistics class! I have two young children and at this very moment my breasts are filling up with milk because it's about that time for Shira to be waking up from her nap. I'm slightly neurotic, always tired, and I like to bake! Also, I hear you talking about sororities--I don't really know what sororities do, because I'm also Canadian. Do you want to sit next to me?
Fortunately for everybody, I kept to myself. I'll save introductions for another class.
But I didn't need to speak in order to stand out. It turns out that my entire personal style betrayed my age. It's not that I looked old, exactly, but I was decidedly not of their age. First, I didn't have long, straight hair. Seriously, do all college women forgo hair cuts? Is it a budget issue? And don't even get me started on the Uggs and leggings. Everyone repeat after me: leggings are not pants, no matter how much you want them to be.
All day I've been wondering how I must have looked in my own undergrad. There was always at least a couple of continuing education students in my classes--were they too wondering if each of us had signed some contract wherein we agreed to wear Silver Jeans, a GAP t-shirt, and a Mountain Equipment Co-op fleece everyday? And now that I think about it, my hair was long and straight! Great, now I feel even older. I was that girl, but now I'm not, because I'm thirty-three and married and I've grown and given birth to two babies and been in school for...
I can't even bear to finish that sentence. At least I can take solace in never having worn leggings as pants. That counts for something.
But if I'm being honest, it isn't so much that I feel or look old. I don't think thirty-three is old and as I tell my husband at least once a week, I'm exceedingly hip.* No one can see my gray hair and the kind gentlemen at the wine store asks me for my identification every time I shop. I like getting older and all the things that come with it: having kids, staying in on a Saturday night, growing old with Matt, a little more confidence. Bring it on. No, this isn't about being fifteen years older or the fact that I'm in class with people born in the nineties. This is more about my trepidation over jumping ship and starting over. It's about progression and the way I halted progress on my PhD in order to, in some ways, start over at the beginning. At thirty-three I feel a bit like an impostor amongst these other students, because, haven't I already done this? Haven't I already sat through first year surveys and written those exams and papers? Haven't I written an honour's thesis, and a master's thesis, and didn't I start writing my doctoral dissertation? What am I doing here again?
Alright, alright. Calm down. I know why I'm here again and as much as I will continue to have doubts (because that's what I do), I'm holding on to that feeling I have that tells me I'm doing the right thing. And just because I'm starting some things over doesn't take away from the hard work of things I've already done.
Now if you'll excuse, I have homework. But first let's take a moment to adore Shira's chubby arms. This post was getting altogether too serious.