The Freshman Challenge

“I’m too old.”

We’re not supposed to talk like that. AARP Magazine, with its relentlessly upbeat articles on what we can do at ages when most of our grandparents were snugly tucked up in their beds, would hiss.

Yes, I began ballet at 50. Yes, a couple of years later, I ran my first 5K. Yes, I swim my mile each weekday morning, manhandle a filled garden cart over the large rocks that block my path, read children’s books.

But–what I can’t do is go back to college. Not really. I’m too old for the slumber parties that make up dorm life, too impatient to sit through lectures. And I rebel at the thought of assigned reading and writing footnotes again.

Anyway, the college I want to attend already has my daughter on campus, and she’d murder me if I suddenly started showing up in the cafeteria line.

photoWhat I can do is take on myself what one of her deans asked of the freshmen at their Opening Induction Ceremony. Challenge yourself, he said. Read something you wouldn’t usually read. Study something you’re sure is too hard for you. Listen to a piece of music you’ve never heard before. Introduce yourself to that person over there who’s not at all like anyone you’ve ever met.

Please note: I’m not quoting here, just remembering loosely. And if you, too, have sat through several different welcome speeches in a row after moving a child into her dorm in the rain after a five hour drive after getting up at 4 AM to get on the road, you know what I mean when I say his words are a bit fuzzy.

But that was the gist. This is your time, the speakers all seemed to say.  To explore, yourself and the world around you. To dig deep and find out who you are. To figure out what it is you most love doing, and how that passion can become a career. A life.

That I can do. Or try to. In this, my transition time. And without the tuition bill.

(Though I do wish I had welcoming committees gifting me with t-shirts and lanyards. And I sure wouldn’t mind a cafeteria which supplied regular meals and an endless supply of soft-serve ice cream.)

Have you gone through such a transition time? Done your own mid-life exploring? I’d love to know.






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