Greetings from GrandpaBy Hank Wolverton | 02/05/2017 10:06pm
Returning back to college is a strange thing. I would imagine it would be plenty different when you’re older and just coming back to finish that degree because retirement is boring. Or when you’re a grandmother and it’s not enough to coddle your own grandchildren, so you return to college to pass out candy to all the youngsters. Coming back as a college student in your mid-twenties is a completely different beast. There’s an innate desire to fit in, as that is what humans tend to do, combined with irrational mental superiority you feel from being an elder. A superiority that is entirely destroyed after a few minutes of actually being around students more intelligent than you, but the brazenness is there initially. It’s not only having your fake superiority complex being shattered, it’s also dealing with introducing yourself in classes and figuring out a way to not appear as an impostor.
The one and only benefit of being unable to grow any semblance of facial hair (that isn’t creepy) would be that it isn’t too difficult to impersonate being a fresh faced 19 year old. Deep down I knew there was nothing wrong about coming back to college after a four year hiatus, that I was much better off doing so than not. That it didn’t make sense to think someone would find out I was then a 25 year old, and I’d be ridiculed and laughed at. I had created aliases and alternate realities in my mind that I planned to effortlessly utter if I was ever asked any questions regarding my personal life. The reality was that if anyone asked me anything, I immediately dropped my grandiose ideas and told them the truth. A truth that was never met with insults, just simple mild shock and the admission that people assumed I was younger.
There are just some strange moments that you don’t even think about until you return. You’ll never again get to enjoy the risk of trying to party in a dorm room, you’ll never even know all the downfalls of living in a dorm room! The community aspect of being a new kid in a new exciting place full of other students feeling the same emotions is something that doesn’t apply to me. Hearing people talk about their high school experiences and realizing you don’t talk to 90 percent of your peers from then anymore. There’s a certain loneliness one feels knowing all the friends they had from their first go around with college have all since departed. The sheer fact that you wish you could bond with someone over just having everything be new again. Obviously that’s not all there is to college, it’s an institution of academia but there’s also magic surrounding it. An allure that seems to be partially affected when you return, that you’ve seen behind the curtain and a little bit of the luster is gone. It could be that, or there’s always the possibility that you’re having anxiety over the idea that you could be older than half your professors.
I am not trying to sound like a bitter old man complaining on his stoop about the infection of the youth that have spread in his city. I’m just trying to show a little behind my own curtain, the curtain of someone who doesn’t look out of place in the college environment but might feel it. I’ve been back for over a year now, and I’m finally beginning to feel not as much like an outsider, which is probably helped by the fact that I’m not in classes of 400 with kids who don’t even know who Hanson was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure my current peers have no idea about the spectacle that is "Mmm Bop," but please let me have this. And just know college is hard for all of us, for you it could be moving away from your family and not knowing how to cope. For me, it might be moving away from my friends and not realizing how to successfully bridge an age gap. The moral of the story? Love your neighbor, be a good person and don’t be worried if a guy has a full blown crisis because he realizes he turns 27 in less than six months—and he still can’t grow anything resembling the semblance of a beard.