As we reach middle-age (I’m 41) we tend to notice the generation gap. This is a huge obstacle to get over and even if we are having a successful experience in college, we can feel as if we are out of place. There are definitely more pluses than minuses, however, and I’m sure in time we will gain more coping skills and somehow manage to fit in.Though it is hard not to envy the seemingly unencumbered, carefree existence of our peers, there is some consolation in knowing that we don’t have to “do over” the awkward summers of our youth. No worrying about getting that perfect boyfriend/girlfriend. No acne to drive us under the covers when our self-esteem is at an all-time low. No parental figures to nag us about how much pizza we eat or how much time we spend on Face Book (I don’t Face Book). We do have families: husbands, wives and sometimes college-aged children, but they don’t nag-they support us. They are proud of our success and share in our joys, try to help us when we are stuck, and always have a kind word when we’ve gotten a bad test grade. In that way people like us are lucky. The hard parts of life are behind us. We frankly couldn’t imagine going to school with raging hormones and too many term papers due. Thankfully romance was a long, long time ago! Now we actually have time to study. We just have to study with reading glasses and extra lighting but who cares about those things?! And before we know it time is passing quickly by.
As one semester glides into the next, things become more familiar and that is a huge upside. Routines are established and what was once an alien planet of young people who walk too fast and talk too fast and frankly do everything too darn fast starts to take on a rhythm and we feel carried along on it, like a leaf drifting on a current rather than trampled by it – like a person on a safari confronting a stampede of raging elephants. As our transcripts fill up with the coveted “A” grades and we start receiving honors, the feeling of “earning” our right to be there – in that school – starts to sink in. We start to see ourselves in that cap and gown, walking across that stage with all the frustrations and embarrassments melting into meaninglessness with our hands on the diploma and with feet ready to carry us onto the next adventure in the dream of life. We know that we have succeeded at the one thing that always mattered the most – college!