I am a mature student and starting my life over again from scratch has been exciting and liberating. It has also been overwhelming and stress inducing. When I left a terrible and toxic past behind in pursuit of a brighter and more meaningful future, I expected that balancing work and studies would be difficult and was prepared to learn new skills in time management and stress management. I had no idea; however, that social dynamics would become my biggest hurdle.
I like to describe my current life situation like Christmas dinner. There’s the adults table and the kids table. I however, don’t belong at either. Many of my instructors and friends are fully accomplished and are years ahead of myself. On the other hand, I am surrounded by a group of young adults, most of whom are barely outside of puberty and so finding my place within this new environment of students has been a lonely struggle. My maturity does; however, give me some advantages: I am unafraid to be different, I am open with my emotions, have little time for gossip, have the capacity to appreciate a variety of different people, and have a passion and perseverance to overcome obstacles and find the positivity in every situation.
So, when the young students call me their “school mom”, I find comfort in the fact that I help nurture a group of individuals who need extra support and know that this capacity is appreciated. I take pleasure in being able to connect with a younger group of individuals, that teaches me patience and shows me an excitement that is admirable. I respect my own accomplishments and appreciate the growth that I have had, since I was 18, and it makes me excited to know that I am sure to see even more personal development as I go through this program.
Ultimately, I know that I don’t have to sit at the kids table or the grown ups table. I sit at a table of my own making and welcome a new group of diverse individuals. Many of whom will be older and younger, many whom I can teach or whom may teach me, but all of whom are on a journey of education and enlightenment. I have chosen, as I enter my second semester, to approach these struggles as opportunities. This experience will make me wiser, but perhaps keep me younger and I will carve my own unique place in this world, choosing optimism over fear.