The 30-Something Student
"It's a Euro-electro-funk band. You're in, right?"
Returning to college in your 30s is weird.
"I don't think I know what that is," I said.
My 19-year-old classmate laughed as if I were joking.
"No, really. What is that?" I asked.
"I know, right? It feels like it's been forever since I moshed hard -- like, three months."
"Pretty sure I have you beat," I said.
"Then it's time to mosh, baby. We're all going."
"Isn't tonight a mandatory study session for class?"
"Yeah, I guess, but what's the professor gonna do, spank us? We're adults. Ya know?"
Yeah, kid. I know.
Jared and the rest of the students in my class trickled out of the classroom early. It was Thursday night, and the campus was abuzz with guest speakers, lecture series, musicals, concerts and, apparently, mosh pits. But I was heading home after class to put my kids to bed. Otherwise, you know, I would have totally... moshed hard.
This fall semester, I am taking an entrepreneurship class at the nearby university. We meet from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday and Thursday. The classroom is full of ambitious young adults who come up with age-appropriate business ideas: ice cream trucks selling liquor-infused ice cream, concert venues you experience in 4-D with virtual reality glasses and, of course, foam helmets for moshing.
Despite turning down the offer to bruise my body to bad music beside 30 of my peers, I was honored to have been invited. I certainly never embraced the lone adult in any of my college classes. They were -- oh, what's that word -- old. And I had, like, nothing in common with old people. Also, it was, like, totally sad that they were taking classes with us. When you're, you know, old, aren't you supposed to have, like, your life already sorted out or something?
These days, I cherish getting to visit my old university once every few years -- even if it broke my heart when I saw that '80s night at my favorite club had turned into '90s night. Really? What are they going to do, rock out to some Savage Garden? Everclear didn't deserve one life; let's not give them a second.
I have found attending class over a decade after I got my degree to be a sobering experience -- and not just because I'm the only one not drunk at this night class. Keeping up with the homework is shockingly difficult. Figuring out how to navigate the class app took a day. And I don't even want to admit how many computer program updates I had to do before I was able to download the homework. Doesn't age give me the right to have 56 pending updates on my phone apps as a badge of honor instead of shame?
However, age has given me one distinct advantage over my classmates: purpose. Last week, our professor had one-on-ones with all the students to discuss our progress and ascertain whether we could continue with the class. I knew I was on the chopping block. My homework was never completed to his expectations, and there was so much I didn't understand and had to learn.
While over half of my classmates left those meetings with their tails between their legs, accepting that they were no longer required to attend class, I prepared my speech. And when my professor tried to kick me out of class, I simply said no.
"Yeah, no. You can't kick me out -- because I need to learn this stuff. And if you insist on kicking me out, I will just sit outside the windows listening in, and every time you happen to look my direction, I will give you a thumbs-up and wave, so you might as well keep me in."
He conceded. Being old means knowing what you want.
The next class after the culling, my classmates were surprised to still see me. They invited me to a concert. To mosh alongside them. Instead, I alone stayed till the end of class. I submitted the homework via the app. Then I went straight home to read bedtime stories to my children about Llama Llama's Euro-electro-funk mosh pit drama.
What? I have to be a little cool if I'm going to survive being back in school.
Katiedid Langrock is author of the book "Stop Farting in the Pyramids," available at http://www.creators.com/books/stop-farting-in-the-pyramids. Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/katiedidhumor. To find out more about her and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.