Thursday, September 18, 2014

RANT: Old & Awkward

I'm the 2nd oldest student in my Anthropology class, I AM the oldest student in all of my other classes. I know that logically, this shouldn't bother me. My age has no real bearing on my overall academic ability (my to-date straight-A record can easily attest to this) but I find it is affecting me in other ways that I just didn't think I'd have been able to anticipate. I can dye-over the grey hairs on my head, I have lost SOME weight since I've been riding my bicycle to class as often as I can, and as far as I can tell a t-shirt and jeans seems a pretty big step-up from the yoga-pants and draping tank-tops I see my younger classmates wearing: When I was their age, that's typically what I would sleep in. And yes, many of them will occasionally leave their dorms wearing pajama bottoms. I know I'm not exactly the most conventionally attractrive woman on campus, or anywhere, but keeping up appearances compared to my peers is neither the point nor the problem, here.

The point AND the problem is that I have absolutely nothing in common with 99% of the people around me on a day to day basis, and it's actually a frighteningly lonely & alienating feeling.

This isn't like the military, which is a good thing because I'm not lawfully compelled nor obligated to attend school and there are no life-altering repercussions against packing up and leaving. Unlike college, the Army gave me opportunities to participate in common activities and tasks with those on my level, for good or ill. Here, people sit in a room for an hour & a half, then get up and leave. Sure, most of my classmates have been generally pleasant and polite, but with the exception of the local secular students' group Occam's Razors, I can't rightly say that I have terribly many friends. Well, to be honest, any at all. 

I'm used to being on my own, but that doesn't mean that I like it. I feel like I'm surrounded by 18-19 year olds who've just left their parents' houses for the first time in their lives, and here's lil' ol' me having been to 6 different countries across 3 continents, half of which were trips I made BEFORE joining the Army in 2009. The other really weird thing about being an older student is this unshakable feeling that I "should already know" most of the subjects that we're going over in many of my classes: English, a subject I've always done exceptionally well with, threw me for the biggest loop because I honestly thought that I knew EVERYTHING that ANYONE ever needed to know about our most commonly spoken language (in the U.S., at least.) Nope, boy was I wrong, but that's okay because despite pretty much having to re-learn something I've devoted a lot of time and energy to perfecting, I still got the highest grade in my entire class. This semester, the tricky subjects are Algebra and Political Science: I never did all that well with math to begin with, it's easily my absolute least favorite subject. But History and Politics, man... again, if you think you have all the answers, you probably don't know a damn thing at all. 

Only two of my professors, so far, have been older than I am: One of whom by less than two months.

I never wanted to be one of these bitchy "older" women who constantly fret about how others perceive their age, but now I think I'm starting to understand why some of them do: Our culture emphasises youth with good times and potential opportunities. I get it, I should probably stop looking for clothes in the Juniors section of the store, but I'm not ready for beige undershirts from Talbots just yet, dammit! I think this is what the slow onset of a mid-life crisis must feel like, minus the breast implants or Corvette (Really, when you think about it, that's mostly the only reason why anyone would ever buy a Corvette.) I think part of the problem is that I may be just now realizing that I didn't get to spend anywhere near enough time during my teenage years telling as many people as possible to kindly fuck right off, and I'm surrounded by young women and men who are, in those respects, right about the apogee of those years where people can get away with that kind of behavior & still be classified as an otherwise functioning adult. 

I miss staying up until 2AM listening to Antichrist Superstar, smoking the weed that I bought with my hoarded lunch-money & painting my nails completely black because I couldn't find anything DARKER.

Funny how it takes losing your youth to really appreciate it: Not just because every album Mr Manson has put out since Mechanical Animals was sloppy and damn near painful to listen to, but because I can no longer get away with the same crazy shit. And THAT, embarassing as it is to admit, makes me a little sad. But y'know what? What I'm NOT going to do is live in the past. Sure, it's hard to look as metal as I used to with grey hair peeking out from under a cheap dye-job and spiked leather attire isn't exactly practical in the humid Southern States, but that doesn't mean that I have to be miserable as I age and let everyone see it. 

I'm trying to remain optimistic, I can continue to do well in school despite never truly fitting in among my peers. It's just a kick in the lady-balls expending all of this effort and for some reason not really being able to enjoy it like everyone else around me. I'm just not that into getting so drunk that my internal organs dissolve, and old people trying to prove that they've "still got it" are just pathetic.

In the end, I can only ever be myself.