Sunday, August 3, 2008

you're not old

I have encountered a really bizarre phenomenon among some of the "older" students at my law school (or, at least among those that I've met so far). My school seems to do a fairly good job of assembling a class that is age-balanced. So yes, there are folks like me who have just graduated college, but there are also plenty of people in their mid & late 20s, people in their 30s & 40s, people with full time jobs, families, prior careers, etc. I'm really looking forward to having classes with a greater age range than college (where everyone was my age except the one wacky 50-something "adult learner" housewife who always held up the class with inane questions). What is so strange to me is that a number of people that I've met who are in their mid & late 20s make such a big fracking deal about being "older" than those of us who are more recent grads. They say things like, "Oh my god, when I was graduating from college, you were just starting college." HOLY JURASSIC ERA DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE FIRE WITH STICKS BACK THEN? Its 4 years, give me a break. My BF is more than 4 years older than I am. My closest sibling is more than 4 years older than I am. Many of my best friends are more than 4 years older than I am. Stop pooping in your slightly older pants.

I suppose that these people might be feeling a bit of anxiety about going back to school after a break, and that's totally fair. But come on, everyone is feeling a bit of anxiety about law school. Plus, I can't shake the feeling that these folks are trying to distance themselves from those of us who just finished undergrad in a way that is tacky and distasteful. The whole "I'm not you, I'm not you" routine is disrespectful because there is nothing wrong with going from undergrad to law school (cripes, especially in this suck-o economy). If you want to impress your classmates with your serious dedication, your work ethic, or your amazing life experience then let those qualities speak for themselves. The only impression that I get from these not-so-oldies is that they tend to freak out over something that is actually no big deal.

8 comments:

Strange Bird said...

Um, I am about four years older than most of my classmates, and I freaked out over it too. It doesn't seem like a big deal to you, but see how you feel about life four years after finishing law school when the new first year associates start working. You will realize how little you have in common with them.

Strange Bird said...

I should clarify, I am friends with those young'uns who are four years younger, so it's not like there is *nothing* in common, but there are some differences and it's pretty scary (both hanging around people in a different phase of life, and also going back to school at all) to us old folks. ;)

Laughing said...

I should clarify too, as I tend to sound harsher than I mean to sound. I still think that there is as much variation among people within an age group as there is between age groups entirely. There are people in my class who are my age and married, and there are people in my class who have never worked a day in their lives and have never had to support themselves. Certainly, there are folks in their mid/late 20s who are in serious relationships, who have been developing their careers, and who have significantly different experiences that most recent college grads. But there are also people in their mid/late 20s who have not had to support themselves, who are single, etc. We are all at the same phase in our lives in the sense that we are all starting law school. In a lot of ways it is just as much about me feeling like these people (who in every other part of my life I get along with fantastically) aren't going to take me seriously because I'm 23 as it is about them feeling "old". The unspoken assumption is that I'm flaky or flighty or immature and that's not fair because you can be flaky, flighty and immature at 28 or 35 or 50 just as well as you can at 23. I just think that if nobody brought it up, it would be less of a big deal.

Strange Bird said...

That's pretty fair. Personally, I never assumed that any of my younger classmates were flakey or immature, and I tried not to harp on feeling older myself (and I didn't think of it because I thought I was cooler or more put together than they were, but because I'm envious that they'll be lawyers before they're 30, which I won't be, and many of them will be able to delay the work/family sacrifices/decisions for longer than I will, which I'm sure simplifies the job search).

That said, if your older classmates are talking about it so much, you should just make fun of them for how old they are. Like, point out wrinkles and stuff (where there obviously aren't any). When no one takes you seriously for feeling sorry for yourself, you tend to stop, quickly. :)

no634 said...

I think a card that many of the 'older' students pull is the "I've had full time work experience after college/did peacecorps/have had more valuable living experience than you, little one."

And to an extent it's true...but I suppose the 22/23 year olds have more vigor and less baggage? It evens out...

Brooklyn said...

Me toooo..I am about 4-6 years older than most of my classmates and it can be uncomfortable to be surrounded by young superstars such as yourself. For me, it makes me feel a bit like a failure, like I shouldve buckled down and been more focused when I was younger. Being older has its benefits, don't get me wrong. I tend to think that I personally have a different appreciation for education than some, not all, of the younger students. I do appreciate your thoughts tho because it lets me know that it really is silly to use defense mechanisms that could make others uncomfortable just because I am a bit insecure.

Michelephant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelephant said...

I laughed so hard and so loud (yes including snorting) at this post that, even though I'm almost a year late, I just had to let you know! HILARIOUS!