A little bit of my thoughts, graduation cap daydreams, and a moment of weakness.
This week, I'm cuddling my puppy Keyleth, and thinking about time.
I’m 27 and just finishing community college. I keep wanting to say I’m 26, but I’m not, and that’s weird. Time is weird. Anyone else feeling like we fast forwarded through an entire 365 days? Not just me? Good.
Higher education later in life is hard. Higher education when you’re young isn’t easy, but at that age, you’re the target demographic for such things. At 27, you’re neither late enough to be a brave returning student, nor young enough to be impressive. At 27, you’re not exactly out of the age group of some students, but there’s something off there. I was never in the service, or part of anything that would have kept me away from my life track for so long, so there’s just something just to the left of expected about my experience. For example, I have a more serious deadline than my peers; the pressure to achieve something tangible by the time I’m 30 is so real. There’s a chance I could get my bachelor’s by then, but probably not.
"When you go through this process when you're older, your family doesn't always see a place for them in your plans."
My classmates feel no such sense of urgency, or so it seems. Life is wide open for them, or so it appears. I remember feeling like that. I remember thinking I had all the time in the world, so then I wasted it. I think feeling like this is more common these days, but it’s still very easy to slip back into seeing myself from the boomer/gen X lens of my parents. They want me to succeed, but, especially now, it’s safe to say they lived in a different time. Hell, I could honestly say 10 year old Eliza lived in a different time.
The biggest thing about doing college closer to 30 is the feeling that only superheroes with alter-egos have previously gotten to experience; the feeling of having one foot in one world, and your other foot in another entirely. Your friends, your home, your family, are the world you know. The life you will make, the secrets only you’ll discover about the new place you’ll live, and the new people you’ll come to love are the other world. If you’re anything like me, you see the transfer date looming, and you’ll want to cling to your family. My family and I are close, I guess, but my brother was welcomed back for every break, and now lives back home with them. I left that house at age 18 and I have never been invited back on a permanent basis. This has to do with a lot of things, (trust me that’s a whole other blog post) but mostly it has to do with a person I’m just simply not, anymore. I’d like to come back for breaks, but there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm about that. There are some other issues at play, but the point is when you do this process when you’re older, your family doesn’t always see a place for them factoring into your plans. But the closer we get to leaving something, sometimes we cling harder. It’s not always the case, but I know it’s happening to me. It’s embarrassing; I always envisioned myself a Cristina Yang type. I’d be fierce, and immune to attachment. But just like Cristina loved her person, I love my village, no matter how odd it looks from the outside.
The fear can manifest itself in so many ways; for me it turns into stress and anger towards people who don’t always deserve it. I try to minimize the damage, but we’re a week away from the Fall semester and I’m taking five classes, took on two clients, and started a part time job. I’m not necessarily sure why I decided to do this, but I’m aware of myself enough to know it has something to do with the gnawing, dark, pit in my stomach that opens up wide whenever I think about the next steps. I’m at that phase where everything feels close, but far away. Far away enough that I have time to screw it all up before the finish line, and close enough that I won’t have time to fix any problems I may cause. There’s a sense of finality in the air when I make choices now. I feel windows through my life rattle with the force of it whenever I say anything with finality. Some doors are open wider than ever, some are closed to me for good. It should feel sad, but mostly it feels good, and other times, it’s puzzling.
I’m doing the blogger version of vague-booking right now, so I’ll bring this to a close. I’ll have concrete details about where the road may take me very very soon. In the meantime, welcome back to school, everyone. Look out for my back to school tips coming soon!
-Eliza In The Trees