On Life and Being a 27-Year-Old Undergrad

On Life and Being a 27-Year-Old Undergrad

Hi! Remember me? I’ve just been a tad MIA for a month or so…

If you don’t already know, I’m back in school full-time which means if I’m not in class, I’m studying for class. And if I’m not doing either of those things, I’m probably working or sleeping. Adjusting to this new schedule has left me barely any time at all to post here. (Or to see friends, or to work out, or to binge-watch shows on Netflix… *crying*)

So, whyyyy am I back in school? Well, because I never quite got around to graduating my first time around. When I was a Freshman in college, I was still living at home with my parents and attending a university near their house and hated every minute of it. I hated it so much that I just straight up stopped attending one of my classes, not realizing that having an “F” on my transcript would make me look like a complete dumb-ass. (Oh, I also didn’t realize that I’d have to pay for that class out of pocket for the next six months as a poor 18-year-old dumb-ass.) I still remember my mom yelling at me from the backyard as I stood in my bedroom, peering down at her through the window after I told her the reason I got an F was because I stopped going to the class. Mama bear was not pleased.

So, Sophomore year, I wanted to redeem myself. I wanted to try again. I switched universities, moved to Milwaukee, got an apartment with my best friend, and just as school was about to start, my grandpa died, and then my cousin died, and everything went to shit all over again. I was sad, broke, confused, and back in the “I don’t care” mindset my punk 18-year-old-self was in the year before. I tried, but mentally I was somewhere else and I just couldn’t focus. I made it through that year, though, and after the spring semester, I decided I needed some time off. I was broke, so I started working more, and when I wasn’t working, I was obsessing over my Etsy store. I had moved out of my first apartment and into my own 1br for the first time and felt relieved that I wasn’t being forced to re-enroll in school that fall.

I did a lot of moving around after that. I loved Milwaukee, but I eventually went back to Racine (where I’m from) for reasons I’m still not quite sure of. Not being in school didn’t really bother me until all of my friends started graduating without me. I think that’s when it really hit me that maybe I screwed up.

A year or so later, I moved to Madison because I thought maybe a traditional university wasn’t for me and decided I’d give vet school a try. (Spoiler: That never happened.) Within that confusing period of time, I broke up with my boyfriend of six years, left Madison, and moved to Washington, DC (mainly to get away from him and the decisions I was making). While in DC, I met a new guy, and after a year and a half, thought I was going to move yet again, this time to the Middle East with said new guy because he was offered a job he couldn’t pass up. (Spoiler: That never happened, either. )

I left DC, returned to Wisconsin once more and moved in with a friend who so generously let me stay with her rent free until I was able to get back on my feet. I didn’t have a job, a car, or any money to speak of, so that proved to be a very difficult task. For nine months, I struggled, but my friends are the best, and I was able to pull through. School was the last thing on my mind at that point, but when my brother and cousin suggested moving to Seattle together, I started researching and thought maybe it could work. Maybe I could try school all over again with a fresh slate, away from everything and everyone I knew back home. So, we packed up a U-Haul and made it happen.

Time flies, things are happy and then sad and frustrating and strange, but in the end, everything always seems to work out for the best anyway and sometimes things fall into place where they’re meant to and life makes sense all over again.

That’s how I feel these days anyway. When I think about how my life could have potentially panned out a few years ago, it’s hard not to laugh. I made the decision to come to Seattle to start over, and I was lucky enough to succeed. I’ve met an amazing group of people here who have completely changed me for the better. I finally feel like I belong here and that I’m at my best. I feel so good and I love my life. Adam has been such a gift and I can’t imagine a life without him.

He has helped me become the version of myself I always knew I wanted to be but was too distracted or too lazy to become. Because of Adam’s love and support, I’m now enrolled in school full-time (I even have my Associate’s Degree now. Yay!) and set to graduate with my Bachelor’s in Linguistics in about a year and a half.

While it definitely feels good to be making this progress, I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. I’m attending a very Christian, private university (because it was one of the only colleges near us that had a Linguistics program) and sometimes I feel I stick out like a sore thumb. (Not only because I’m not religious at all, but because I’m a 27-year-old undergrad.) I’m as old or even older than some of the grad students in some of my classes, and one of the best school friends I’ve made so far is only 19 years old. It’s weird. I’m surrounded by young adults (though they’re kids in my mind) who have never held a job, been in a relationship, or fully lived on their own a day in their lives. I feel like an outsider some days, but something I’ve picked up on thus far is how very genuine the students and professors are there. I’ve only been enrolled for less than a quarter, and I feel like my professors already know me well and really want me to succeed. My first day of class, I was nervous and feeling all the butterflies, but when I found my way to a desk and sat down, the girl in front of me turned around and immediately introduced herself. It was crazy! That has never happened to me at any of the (many) colleges I’ve attended in the past. There’s this awesome feeling of togetherness there, and who knows, maybe attending a religious college will turn out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Ha! Life works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it? Cheers to that.

I’m learning that everyone’s path through life is unique, and no two stories are the same. Instead of feeling down about my choices and how long it’s taken me to get here, I have to take a step back and applaud my efforts of facing my fears and finally allowing myself to get back to that place I felt I lost so long ago. I’m so fortunate. One day at a time…

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.” – Sylvia Plath

18 Comments

  • Reply
    Mitzie Mee
    February 14, 2016 at 1:14 AM

    I’m in my mid thirties and I’m in Med School, so I think I’m going through a lot of the same stuff you are right now. I had a very long break from my studies to work as a pilot, move to Dubai with my husband and lots of other stuff, which came up , so getting used to being an, almost, full-time student again has been tough (right now I’m escaping in Vietnam). Good luck with your new life, I’m sure you will succeed this time:)

    • Reply
      amandaaude@gmail.com
      February 19, 2016 at 5:17 PM

      Med school! How exciting. :) I’m so glad we’re in this together, Mitzie! Woo-woo!

  • Reply
    Fiona
    February 14, 2016 at 3:45 AM

    What an amazing adventure ride – nice for things to all fall into place, I always marvel how they do that :)

  • Reply
    Craig Aude
    February 14, 2016 at 10:53 AM

    Smart as a whip and twice as pretty (?). Ha. As one of your heroes once said,” keep on swimming, keep on swimming”. Always in the right direction, forward. Love you, pumpkinhead.

  • Reply
    Josie Donaldson
    February 14, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    One of my biggest hang-ups is not having completed a degree, especially when I worked so hard to get *into* university after not completing high school. That’s why seeing your story is so comforting. Everyone has a different path and perhaps going to university after gaining some life experience isn’t a bad thing that maybe we have made ourselves think.

    I understand 100% about sticking out like a sore thumb, even though everyone else is probably too preoccupied by their own lives to even take notice. I’m happy to hear you’re in a place where you feel like you can – and are – your best. Linguistics also sounds so amazing! Take care. x

    • Reply
      amandaaude@gmail.com
      February 19, 2016 at 5:20 PM

      Thanks, Josie!! It’s inspiring to meet so many people who are in my same position. I often feel I’m alone in this, but I’m not! I’m even much younger compared to others going back to get their degree the same way I am, and I think that’s great. The timing has to be right and I’m so glad it’s happening now that I feel ready. :)

  • Reply
    Stephanie | In Her Lens
    February 14, 2016 at 2:34 PM

    I’m happy to hear that things are going well for you. I’m thirty and have my degree, but still wish I could just start over somewhere new. Unfortunately, money and student loans don’t allow me to do that. Maybe someday.

    • Reply
      amandaaude@gmail.com
      February 19, 2016 at 5:21 PM

      Maybe someday indeed! You’ll find your way, I’m sure of it. It’s great you already have a degree though! It’s amazing how much you can get with scholarships and grants these days, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind when/if you do decide to go down that path again. :)

  • Reply
    andrea
    February 20, 2016 at 10:56 AM

    I love this post. I love that you shared your story without polishing it, telling us about the failed plans and your lowest moments. Thanks for that, I feel like so much of the blogging world (and social media in general) is focused on showing beauty that these other, perhaps more important, parts get left out.
    I can imagine how you feel about being an older undergrad. I’m a lecturer at university and when I started, at the age of 29, I felt a MASSIVE gap between me and my students in terms of responsibility, attitude and life experience. I have a few older students too who are my age and often express to me their frustration dealing with the younger lot.

    • Reply
      amandaaude@gmail.com
      February 23, 2016 at 3:42 PM

      Thanks, Andrea, I appreciate your kind words! I know what you mean about the blogging world. It always seems to be butterflies and rainbows for most of the bloggers out there, but I highly doubt that’s what’s really going on. It’s hard for me to do that. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your educational path with me!

  • Reply
    Katie
    February 25, 2016 at 6:17 PM

    best of luck in all your schooling, girl. I’ve never gone to college at all, it scares me a lot to be honest (I was horrible at school) so I really admire those that stick it out and work their asses off to get that degree. Keep at it.

    • Reply
      Amanda
      March 4, 2016 at 8:33 PM

      Thank you, Katie!! I appreciate that. :)

  • Reply
    McKenzie Allyshia
    June 16, 2016 at 5:34 PM

    If it makes you feel any better, I am twenty-six and an undergrad :) I have a little over a year and a half to go and I will earn my Bachelor’s degree. This is also my third go at going to college and so far it has been the best try yet! It sounds like, through everything, things have worked out wonderfully for you.

  • Reply
    Marina
    July 13, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    Hi, Amanda. Was just reading back on your college story. When I went to SPU, I also felt that I didn’t fit in, mainly because I was always broke and the dorm parking lots had their fair share of BMWs, lol. I also didn’t have a Christian upbringing, but I became a Christian in high school, buuuuuut I had questions that my peers looked down on and I soon found out that I didn’t believe anymore! It actually came to me when I moved to South Korea, slowly. And then I was told that I have no morals by the people who introduced me to Christianity.

    Anyway, I quit after the first quarter and transferred to a community college at home. I feel like we went through a lot of the same feelings and it almost would’ve been beneficial for me to take time off. Your path is a good path! Everyone’s is really. I only went back because I was too intimidated to apply to another school, haha.

    I wish I would’ve studied linguistics like you! What do you plan on pursuing as a career? I know I’ll need to work for the next few years to pay off loans and save up for next steps, but I am always trying to get ideas. :)

    • Reply
      amandaaude@gmail.com
      July 15, 2017 at 10:56 AM

      Aw, Marina thanks so much for your comment. I agree – everyone lives life at their own pace and the “traditional” route isn’t right for everyone. I actually have a great job right now that I love (unrelated to Linguistics) but who knows, maybe down the road I’ll be able to use my degree. I just wanted to get my degree mainly for personal reasons. It’s an accomplishment I’m proud of!

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