I feel sometimes like I have a foot in two different worlds, and I'm standing between them-- it is the same as deciding where one fits in their environment, finding the balance, knowing one's place. Flies have it easy; don't get eaten, find poo, lay eggs, die. There aren't many decisions to make. Humans aren't always so lucky.
Social life means a lot.
(I've already written about it a little, here, but I'm still working it out.) Last night I went out on campus and met up with a couple of friends from my two-year school, one my age and one who could very well be my kid. Typical college bar, crowded, hot, loud dance music, drink specials. Not someplace you usually see a lot of 40-somethings, but the music doesn't stop when one walks in either. It's more fun if you're drunk, but if you only have one or two drinks it's still fun to people watch.
Disclaimer: a lot of those people are my age. I'm not one of them, but to someone who's 21 in a college bar, we old people all look the same. I know this because I thought the same thing when I was 21.
On the other hand are the people who are my age that are for the most part settled down; more or less stable job, kid(s), car/minivan, house/condo, etc. (Some of those people are the same ones that like to pretend they're 20 on Saturdays during football season, but many also are not.) Many people in my age group are divorced, and/or single parents. Maybe "settled down" isn't quite correct, and maybe "tied down" is a better term. I don't mean that in a negative sense, just that many people my age have a lot of responsibilities that keep them operating within a certain range.
Being a full time student at a university is a lifestyle, and the environment assumes that you're between 18 and 26. That's not a negative, it's just how things are.
Being forty-something, you actually have more choices when it comes to lifestyle, but a lot depends on job, kids, and responsibilities.
Much depends on me having the freedom to spend much of my time and energy on school, it's what I've been working towards all these years and it's what matters to me. And that's where PTSD enters into this discussion, because that's where trust and fear become issues.
So I am very cautious, and more than a little confused, when it comes to social situations. I will be social, but only to a certain point, because whenever I've been past that point it's always ended badly. (Add to that the possibility that at some point in a relationship, I might meet someone's parents that are, um, my age. There's no self help book at Amazon that covers that.) Dealing with fears and mistrust like that, however illogical or untrue it is, makes it really difficult to adapt to a new social environment that's centered on college life. Not only do I not know the rules, I have to overcome all of my own issues in order to learn them.