Thursday, April 24, 2008

looks can be a curse

No, I'm not talking about whether you consider yourself good looking or not. I'm talking about what age you are perceived at.

All my life I've looked young. about the time I hit 17 it seems my looks stayed at that "age" when I hit 25-26 that went up a bit and my age started being guessed at around 19-21. Those are averages. I was in a college classroom 3 years ago and a girl was confused at how I was able to start the semester in the off season. It dawned on me she thought I was fresh out of highschool. I was 30 at the time.

I'm now 33 and although I don't go around quizzing people on my age, I get the same treatment.

I've learned, in a large capacity, to enjoy the fact I look so young. But there's times when it doesn't bode well in society. Mainly I'm speaking about college.

Did you ever sit around and notice the treatment, or relationships between fellow out-of-highschool students, professors, and non-traditional older students?

People can have pre-conceived notions about a lot of things. Your attitude toward life, school, and other people; how they expect to see you acting. There's a plethora more.

There's times I just wished I wore a nametag that said "Hi I'm Jeremy, I'm 33"(I told this to an advisor once-we shared a good laugh. It was...comforting).

It can become quite a strain dealing with kids I can relate to on many factors but still have a given amount of knowledge, ideals, and memory that's considerably older than most students.

The whole reason I bring this up is from a class I take. I mentioned I missed a couple days in an older post. This was around the time of a group project. I was late on the ball, and had already asked for everyone's email in advance, and tried to communicate with little to no luck. Giving the presentation, I was thinking that I didn't want to detract any points from the group, on my part, and I wanted to be clear to the professor that I wasn't trying to lie or be sneaky.

I made it clear that I didn't do very much and that it was mostly the kids that did the work. I got laughs and the Prof. furled his brow and almost chuckling asked "Why would you volunteer that?" I just flatly said "I don't want to lie". He replied "Well, don't you think you could have found some kind of dichotomy..." I didn't reply by then the students started rambling and things needed to progress.

There's a couple things I want to point out about this exchange.

Firstly, and as a side note: I've already been pegged as weird. Mostly because I don't show a general interest in pop culture, am a little socially inept, and show a straight forward interest in learning regardless of shooting for that good grade.

Secondly: I don't think I would be pegged as weird(or at least not near as weird as I already am) if they were all aware of my age-Prof. included.

The exchange, based on that, also creates a domino effect of weird moments, one after the other. I think on some level, the Prof., after having asked that, realized on some level the maturity I was displaying and tried to stop on already strange moment with what ended up being a smaller strange moment(a rebuttal to my answer).

If I'm a snot-nosed punk(forgive the label) then I'm most probably considered to have missed the participatory grade for a set range of reasons associated with that age group(partying, laziness, what have you).
A person can be treated far more uniformly knowing they are not said snot-nosed punk.
I get the same thing in gym class. I missed that day, and arrived the next a few minutes into class and the Prof./teacher/coach just looks at me and says "Welcome to class." I usually just say "thanks" witch pegs me as a weirdo in itself but I mustered up a "Thanks, glad to be hear". followed by a few seconds awkward stare down. I can't tell you the number of whispers Ive heard already by the students. I'm pretty sure he expected to hear an excuse and an apology which I didn't have. I don't play some game where I make stuff up. I'm pretty straight forward and don't see the need to be anything but truthful and honest. Yes, a little tact is needed, but I'm not going to just start playing the part, it just leads to other messy situations.

So, I ask you. Am I totally offbase on how I should act. Any tips tricks, anyone relate to this? I would so love some advice, help, empathy?

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