I just grew up a little. I blame student teaching.

It seems so very silly, this adolescence. As I finished my fifth straight week of student teaching, I realized that my initial observation of college remains remarkably apt. It went to the effect of:

College is high school without parents.

What struck me today was that both high school and college are so petty.

Sure, high school and college have two different flavors. The former: mandated, day-in-day-out desperation. The latter: absolute, unrelenting freedom. After all, if you sleep in during high school, Officer Truant knocks down your door. If sleep in during college, nobody cares.

This seemingly absolute freedom from daily responsibilities is the only real difference between the two archetypal experiences.

This difference matters a lot, because just about everything else is the same.

The stupid 17-year-old divas in the government class I teach will become the stupid 20-year-old divas with children in my undergraduate classes.

Bookish 15-year-old nerds in my world history class transition to bookish 23-year-old nerds with a triple major, now working as grad students in the education department.

“I can’t believe he just broke up with you,” magically translates to “I can’t believe he just broke up with you,” except now the subtext of “He used you for sex” is assumed rather than immediately inquired.

There’s an ever-irksome connection. I cringe now every time my 15-year-old sophomores whine about how I’m so unfair. In my mind’s ear, I hear myself saying the same thing at 19 years, and my peers echo it at 24.

I feel satisfied, though, that I’m actually doing something worthwhile. Kids four years my senior just now figure out how to combine their party lifestyle with the secondary responsibilities of studying and going to classes.

They stare at MySpace for hours at a time while I find joy in reading my students’ essays.

I almost feel I should ask them why they haven’t figured it out, yet.

Public drunkenness isn’t life’s highest achievement — get your degree and get out. You could make something of yourself if you stop thinking like you’re still in high school.

The best part is that this isn’t my usual self-righteous frustration. I’m satisfied and things are working out — all because I ditched the pettiness.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out what they see in it.

What a silly question. I can’t even remember what I saw in it.

Moral of the story? Work is work until you finish it. That’s when it dissolves into satisfaction.

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  1. I wonder if you might need to find some new friends. Although my daughter is a few years older, she and her friends never acted as those you quote. At 29, they are all living pretty impressive lives now. And, having fun doing it.

  2. dkzody,….dont know if you noticed but the person writing the blog is the teacher, and this seems pretty typical of something that would happen in a classroom.

  3. I was quoting both my peers and my students, to be honest. I guess the point I was trying to make was that people don’t change much. Not as self-empowering of a message as it felt like when I wrote it.

    I’m more of the bookish nerd type, and so I really don’t have that many friends. Whether I’ve fallen in with the wrong crowd or not, I write what I see.

    Maybe the problem is that I’m still in school, and so the only 24-year-olds I see are the ones yet to graduate.

    Oh, and I used the term “peer” loosely. I just turned 21, myself.

  4. certainabsurdity

    So when do we really grow up? Interesting thoughts…

  5. The best answer I have for that is “between birth and eternity.” That’s cribbed from Mario Cuomo, who used the same phrase in a different context.

    I’d like to think that I won’t grow up too much. I’d like to keep the childlike wonder in my life just enough to avoid reeling from my inevitable downward spiral into obsolescence.

    Childlike wonder will be, of course, preserved through the advice of others and careful reflections on decisions in the lives of those around me. The reflections will be promptly forgotten so that only the barest lessons will be retained. This practice maximizes my positive outlook.

    I’ve given some thought to this. It’s hard to have excited naiveté while subconsciously exercising good judgement. In fact, it’s impossible.

    In my naiveté, I’ll try anyway.




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