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10 September 2010

Millenials.

This post is a continuation of Improvement yes, Perfection no.

I'm sitting in my apartment, alone.  I've been here, mostly in this chair, since my last class ended and I arrived home at about 1100.  There's a football game two blocks away tomorrow, and so places like the union and downtown are probably quite busy.  There is no shortage of free entertainment available, no shortage of opportunity to just be out among the crowd tonight.  It's quite possible that if I went out alone tonight, I might cross paths with someone I know, and that would be ok-- but I can't seem to get out of my apartment.  Social life is feeling a lot like a war zone, where the right thing to do is stay somewhere safe whenever possible.

It took until probably 1830 or so for me to realize that I've been home all day, not accomplishing anything.  Granted, I'm getting over a cold, and not feeling 100%, but that's not really an excuse.  It's not just today.  Since I've moved, I've pretty much been sheltered in place other than going to classes and meetings.   It's not a happy situation.  It's also an indication that something's wrong that needs to be fixed.

The age difference and peer groups conflict I'm dealing with has a lot to do with me staying home.  I'm afraid-- it's the PTSD and social anxiety together that's making me afraid.  I'm so tuned in to hurt and rejection lately that I pick up on it immediately, and I see it even if it's not there.  I make it up, inside my head, apply it to the situation that hasn't even happened yet, and "see" the outcome; and since it's not good, I just stay glued to my chair.

I have a few things going on inside my head right now.   I'm trying to sort them out.

I took a quiz online that asks "How Millenial are you?" earlier today, and I got a 98.   The quiz is designed to tell you how well you relate to the latest generation, the so-called Millenials.   I'm a card-carrying Gen-X member; I did the whole growing up in the 70's and 80's thing.  The MTV, the Walkman, the Cold War, the didn't have the Internet in my bedroom era.  According to the timeline in the sky, my kids should be either headed off to college or going within a year or so.  The freshmen I have in some of my classes should be the kids I'd have had after I got back from Desert Storm.

Yet I relate to the Millenials.  That's funny, those are my peers, the people I'm in classes with.

Thinking about it, though, I rejected my age group when I decided to go to a four-year state university as a full time student.  I walked out of a steady job with health insurance just as the current recession was gaining steam, in favor of college, student loans, and campus life.  I also don't have kids, so I have no responsibility to think or act like a parent and set a good example.   I simply hopped off the sidewalk I was on, and got on one going a different direction.  (Okay, it wasn't quite that simple or painless.  From a broader perspective, that is what happened, and I'm sure that's how most of the people around me that were my age or older viewed me returning to college full time.)

I don't want to have my feet in two different worlds, where I have the "campus world" and then the "off campus adult world"; I want to be here.   But that doesn't answer the question, it doesn't explain why I'm stuck in my apartment.

It's not that I'm afraid of being outside of my comfort zone, it's that I have no idea what my comfort zone actually is.  Find house parties to go to, standing on carpet that's sticky next to students yes, but strangers, being the only old person there... students see and evaluate what's in front of them, and when they look at me they see someone obviously older.  And I see someone in them that's obviously younger, and there's this invisible wall there.  Where's the common, middle ground where we relate, the hole in the dam that lets all of the water through?

That common ground is complicated, it's fluid, but there is a possibly mythical point where I don't care that they're younger and they don't care that I'm older, and we just get along fine.  If that point exists, I don't know where it is, or even where to start looking for it.   

Does it take everyone being drunk enough to not care?  I hope not... I don't drink that much...

"My" age group doesn't outright reject me when they find out I'm a full time student; but there's a wall that goes up.  I don't know if it's my wall, their wall, or both, but I can see it go up.


I want to get past that barrier, make friends that will last, even maybe find someone special.
I'm afraid that if I don't find a connection with my peer group, students, I don't have anyone left.

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