New Castle News

Lisa Madras

May 6, 2013

Lisa Madras: I’m kickin’ it old school — and trying to get a leg up

NEW CASTLE — What lessons did you NOT learn in the classroom?

Several weeks ago, I found myself stumbling around outside of my comfort zone. I'd gone to a college campus to begin working on a new degree and new direction for my life. And boy did I feel like a square peg.

On the drive there, I thought back to my first time around at college, and how vastly different it felt this time around. Think fat girl at the yoga class, and you've pretty much got the idea.

Who did I think I was inserting myself into an environment that's tailored for the young and idealistic, for those just starting out in life? I'm 40  now, with two kids at home and a lifetime of, well ... LIFE behind me.

At 18, I was exactly where I belonged. I remember the "returning adult students" in my class, and how different they were from the rest of us, with their incessant questions to the professors, and their air of "look at me — I'm special." I hate to admit it, but they annoyed me. I'm not proud of feeling like that. I was young and stupid. And now here I am, the annoying one.

What I didn't realize at the time was that these people had no choice but to be different. They'd learned things already that the rest of us would never be taught in a classroom: the joy of giving birth, the despondency of death, the oppression of "the man," and the freedom and captivity that goes along with no longer being a child. They'd been betrayed by sinners, inspired by saints, and had been places and done things that had changed them in immutable ways.

They'd lost God, and found God, and they were probably there because they'd recently found themselves.

They asked questions because they already knew never to accept anything at face value, and they stuck out in the crowd not because of their own biases, but because of the ones we "youngsters" had, and had thrust upon them.

Now I get to experience the other side of that bias, and I have to admit that I'm ridiculously curious to see how it all turns out. But like the adult students that I'd once so grudgingly accepted into my world, I'll try to remember that it's OK to be different, and that I'm here for me. And I'll try not to ask too many annoying questions.

You know, I wouldn't even mind if some of the kids wanted to call me "mom."

But I'm telling you right now, if any of the professors do, I'm dropping the class and taking up knitting.

Just kidding! (Wish me luck!)

 

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