25 April 2010

The balancing act- adjusting to college life

I'm having trouble today. I'm sitting in my apartment, alone, as I have been all day.

On one hand, things are going better. Most of the planning I did for this semester turned out to be wrong, and I've somewhat forgiven myself for that. I did the best I could to be ready, and I did the best I could to make it possible to adjust to a new and different situation. Things not falling into place isn't my fault; there's nothing more I could have done. I've been getting help and making adjustments all semester, which is a good sign. (It's when you stop trying to fix things that indicates something's really out of whack.)

Now, I'm doing a lot of the right things, but there's some things that are just hard to do given the circumstances. It's hard to get motivated to go to the library and study when the library is ~30 minutes drive away. It's hard to study at home when you're so far removed from anything campus related-- it makes it easier to study when people are around you studying. I'm looking forward to living on (well, within a block of) campus starting next semester. Being so close will make logistics much, much easier to deal with, and I'll be surrounded by academia. This is a good thing.

Being surrounded by college students who are half my age, 24/7, is a little scary too. College (age) students drink, throw parties, play drinking games, and do beer bongs as tall as the house they live in. I'm going to be in an apartment of my own, so I won't have that atmosphere in my place, but that atmosphere may be in my building and will certainly be across my street. I'm over 40, and I actually realize it. I don't drink much, maybe a beer at a time. I don't pretend I'm 20 again. My reason for wanting to be on campus is academic, and involves access to other smart people who are in my classes. It's a lot easier to organize a study group when you don't have a 40 minute bus ride to get there and back. (I'll confess that I like the atmosphere a college campus provides, especially one in a city that's fun to be outside in.)

Most of the students I know, when they find out how old I am, don't really care. I don't try to be their Mom or Dad, I try to be their classmate, and students recognize and appreciate that. Other people who are in my age group, i.e. “old people”, have a different reaction. Old people ask “So, what do you do?” I answer that I work at _____. And I'm a student.” The reaction is odd when people find out I'm a full time student-- maybe they have a mental image of what a student at my university does (drink, party, be obnoxious, flash boobs on Facebook), and I don't fit the image. Maybe it just doesn't fit that I'm their age, and instead of raising a family, buying a house, and in general being stable, I'm a full time student who occasionally acts and talks like one.

I wonder if they hear someone talking like one of their kids, but see the forty-something veteran standing in front of them, and it just doesn't compute. Maybe they just think it's a midlife crisis?

That is, I think, the answer to why I have so much trouble studying at home. I do well in the atmosphere on campus; but being off campus doesn't offer the same comforts, the same sense of place, the same safety. It's as if I'm alone in the world here at home, and on campus I belong to a group with similar goals and problems.

I should just go to the library on campus, but it's a long way to go and I have laundry to do here.

I have to try to get some studying done here. My Sunday night won't be as productive here, as it would be if I was at the library-- but I do need clean clothes, too.


  1. Suffering from complexe PTSD however for different reasons. One of the online resources helpful for me is:
    Besides a friend of mine served in Desert Storm.
    Wishing you the best of day

  2. I think that's what makes it hard to deal with sometimes-- PTSD can come from so many different places, but the results are all really similar.

    Thanks for the link :)


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