My So-Called Life

I work with college students every day. Walking around campus, seeing posters about safe sex comic acts, music concerts and reading student senate meetings brings me back in time every day. In many ways, it's really nice because for so many of us, our late teens and early twenties is a blur, maybe from partying too hard or just from trying to block out a period of time filled with confusion, soul searching, self angst and worry about the future.

After leaving college, I didn't step on a campus for many years. During that time, I lost my self angst, figured out who I was, and paved the way for my future. I still have to admit that when I took the job five years ago, I felt really weird coming to work each day. I felt like an impostor walking around campus; that rather than being an adult, a mentor, an advisor to the students, I was actually one of them. I was afraid that they'd see right through me and be able to tell how nervous I was about being outside my comfort zone, away from my old friends and family, not knowing anyone or my way around.

Last year, the first years of my first year graduated and I now know my way around campus, see many a friendly faces each day as I walk around campus, and am confident that I'm seen as an advisor and adult in the eyes of most of the students. Yes, and that is what now makes me feel weird coming to work each day.

The majority of traditional age students entering college last fall were born in 1993. Really? Really? In 1993, I was a staffer on the high school year book, I was on the gymnastics team, I got my first official summer job. I was listening to I Will Always Love You sung by Whitney Houston and All That She Wants by Ace of Base. In a few short years I'd get my license, get a boyfriend or two, get into college and graduate. These kids were in diapers sucking bottles when I was studying chemistry and taking Spanish III. Ay de mi!

The age difference hit me hard last year,when during an advising session I ended a sentence with "yadayadayada". The student had no idea what I was saying-and get this- had never heard of Seinfeld. The last episode of Seinfeld was one of the last nights of class my sophomore year of college. I missed most of the episode because we had a party and all I recall from the night is puking in my trashcan. Plus, I think I drunk emailed my Spanish teacher. Lo siento, senora.

Some of the students are shocked that I am married and am a mother of two, until I open my mouth and start lecturing them about the lack of professionalism displayed by their low cut tops, how listening to their ipods too loudly will make them deaf, the impact of not getting enough sleep or- yes-binge drinking.

I like to watch streaming TV shows on our ipad while I run on the treadmill and last week I decided to watch Season 1, Episode 1 of My So-Called Life.. Anybody who has a flashback if I hummed Spin Doctor's Two Princes would remember how cool that show was; the hotness of Jordan Catalano and the true-to-life trails and tribulations of Angela Chase. Yeah, well, this time around, Jordan seems like a low-life dolt and Angela is down-right annoying. I found the kids' storyline irritating and very far from my current so-called life. You want to know the characters I found the most relatable? You guessed it. The mom and dad. My concerns now are about my job, what to do when my kids are mad at me for decisions I make, and how to manage a marriage. I stopped watching after that episode. It was just too depressing so I went back to Switched At Birth and Gossip Girl- shows that in no way are a reflection on my past or present life.

I like being around college students. Their futures are ahead of them and it's my job to help them chart their course, to shape their destinies. They also remind me of how special college is, the wonderful friendships I developed and the impact a teacher (or two), or a book (or two) had on me, the joys of having food made and served to me daily, how waking up at 8 am was crazy early, yadayadayada. Being around college students also reminds me how nice it is to drive a reliable car, to have money in my bank account, to go to bed on a Saturday at 9pm without missing out on anything, and to know exactly who I am and what I want to be.

By the way, My So-Called Life debuted in 1994.


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