After a year and a half of absolute career hell, I landed a position right where I wanted: non-profit higher education. After only two weeks in the new sector, I can’t even wrap my head around half of the policies and practices I had to work under in for-profit education.
Since beginning my new job, I keep finding pleasure in the smallest of things. The way the historic campus looks after a light snow fall. The click of my heels as I scurry across campus to get to my office. The excitement and chatter among young college students, full of hope and ideas. The sound of the floorboards creaking as I tip-toe through the quiet, old buildings. The way the light shines in through the stained glass windows early in the morning.
Part of my enjoyment is also listening to the college students talk about their lives. I sit and pretend to be working on a report as I listen to two young females giggle and tee-hee over boys in the dorm, upcoming parties, and events on campus. It feels like just yesterday when I was right where they are now. I keep asking myself the same question… when did I stop being 18 years old?!
When did my ideas of fun go from working at a coffee shop and stuffing my shirt with cups to have Madonna boobs, to enjoying a cup of coffee and early morning news? When did I turn from party girl extraordinaire into a career-driven introvert? The last ten years couldn’t have slipped by without my noticing… or could they?
The answer came during a chat I had with two of the student workers. They were gagging and retching to themselves over the idea of watching a childbirth video in a Psychology class. As I heard them making noises of disgust and alarm, the memory of my own like action at 18 years old re-played in my mind. “Childbirth is disgusting. I’ll never have kids and ruin my vagina!” I brazenly reported to my mother at the time. Fast forward ten years and I feel like I’m beginning to live on borrowed time in the baby-making business. I won’t even admit how many scenarios I’ve played through in my mind to make sure I can pop out (and afford) at least three kids before 35.
“I remember watching that video,” I said to the student workers. They asked me how icky the video had been and I smiled with reminiscence. “It’s pretty graphic, but it’s not too bad,” I explained.
Then it happened. I received the answer to the ever-looming question, when did I stop being 18 years old?
The student worker smiled back at me, “Well it’s probably not gross to you because you’re basically a Mom.”
“I don’t have kids…” I interjected.
Her 18-year-old, worry-free face shined innocently back at me. “Yeah, but even then… you’re like 30 or something. So, even if you’re not a Mom, you’re kind of a Mom. Because you know, you’re kind of…”
She stopped and searched the room for the right adjective. While two minds are better than one, I could have gone without the complimentary adjective gift from the second student worker.
“You’re old,” she said bluntly, “But you’re still cool.”
There it is, folks. Straight from the mouth of babes. I am officially not 18 years old anymore.