This Fall semester, I am reentering college as an old man. Twenty-six now, I’ll be twenty-seven in November. I’ve reached a conclusion regarding my age—as flippant as it might sound, I urge you to accept my sincerity—I’m ancient.
The past few days I’ve been attending Orientation Week at the University of Rochester, and it’s been great. I’ve been floored by the level of genuineness the school shows towards its students. I’ve spoken with alumni and veteran students, and it seems U of R never lets up. The university is with you the entire way, offering help and encouragement as you progress.
But yeah, I’m older. Being surrounded by Freshmen doesn’t seem to help.
As a transfer (Junior standing), I should be a little older; I get that; I do. But even the transfers are young. Yesterday morning I attended “Breakfast with the President and the Deans,” a transfer-only event (no lousy freshmen).
Sitting with my fellow-transfer students, I quickly grasped two things:
1. The average age of the table, excluding myself, was twenty-one.
2. At twenty-six, I might as well have been in my fifties. I just don’t relate like I used to.
My wife says I’m suspended in an “Early-Twenties” Vortex. She’s creative like that.
Basically, the last few years I’ve been surrounded by folks in their early twenties: my friends, my band-mates, my co-workers. When you’re twenty-four and twenty-five, twenty-year-olds don’t bother you. You still relate.
At (almost) twenty-seven, I feel myself growing cold to the trivial discussions of “this is my first time away from home, and I need attention.” I could care less about your many trips to the bar. You got drunk, good for you.
Beer is still new and exciting for most young twenty-somethings. Personally, I’m tired of discussing the subtle differences of Keystone and Budweiser; it’s just not my thing. I realize “I drink one with dinner” is not the hippest sentence to utter, but luckily getting older relieves the stress of being hip.
There’s other differences. I’m married, so I’m not trying to get laid.
At twenty-one, getting laid wasn’t just an idea, it was a life goal; I based every decision around it: when I went outside, what I ate, why I got out of bed… I see it now in younger kids like a stamp on their foreheads; was I that obvious?
It’s cool, I guess. College is about getting laid for a lot of people. It’s about exploring and experimenting. It’s about being away from home for the first time and making bad decisions.
What if you’ve already done all that? What if you’ve already found yourself?
I desire to make a difference in the world. I’m ready to meet intellectual people and discuss meaningful topics. Cheesy as it sounds, I’m ready to make the most of my education.
Too-Cool for School
As I read over what I’ve written here, I see how asshole it all sounds. I’m too cool for twenty-year-olds.
That’s not it at all.
I had an amazing conversation with two twenty-year-olds on the first day of orientation. They were both amazing, incredibly smart people (smarter than I was at twenty) who deeply inspired me. It’s not the age I wish to distance myself from, but a state of mind.
Maybe I’m in some late-twenties life-crisis.
I once again find myself without a clear conclusion. Like a case of The X-files, I’m so close to capturing the truth but can’t quite take it home.
So goes life.
At least I can see the forehead stamp and laugh a little bit. Maybe Solomon was wrong; wisdom starts not at the fear of the Lord, but when we learn to laugh at ourselves and our pasts.
Wish me luck as I go forward.