Sunday, 24 March 2013

Feeling old

A dusty old troll
Some days "mature student" feels very much like "old".  Like on Friday.  I was sitting outside in the sun eating my lunch, and listening to a group of students nearby having one of those debates that seem so deep and meaningful when you're 19, when you think you're coming up with ideas and arguments that nobody else has ever thought of.  And listening to them argue, all I could think was that I'd taken part in almost exactly the same discussion myself when I was their age - and it solved nothing then, either. 

That's the danger of spending so much time around students.  It's very easy to end up feeling old and jaded. Sometimes I catch myself on the verge of going into crotchety old woman mode, about to start the "you youngsters have it so easy" speech when I hear a particularly naive comment.

Like the time in a sociolinguistics class a few years back when we were discussing sexist language, and one of the young female students said she didn't see what the big deal was, because men and women are equal now, aren't they?  My 1980s feminist blood boiled, but I managed to restrain myself from a full-blown rant (well, mostly ;-) ).  It actually turned into an interesting class, with the tutor (who was about my age) and I sharing examples of sexism we'd experienced, but it made me feel so old knowing that so much of what we talked about happened in a time before my classmates were even born.

But being a mature student doesn't have to make you feel old.  There are plenty of times when being around so many young people makes me feel just as young as them.  Their enthusiasm and freshness can be infectious, and their readiness to grasp new ideas inspiring.  It can even be fun sometimes to re-enter those age-old debates about politics, religion, sex, and the meaning of life, and be once again among people who honestly believe their ideas could change the world.  Who knows, maybe they can...

Does being around students make you feel old, or young? Any tips for keeping yourself feeling young? Let us know in the comments.

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