"You work for a university? So do you, like, teach?"

The problem of working in higher education can be boiled down to two points: the “what if” syndrome and the dangerous combination “I’m so old/how dare you think I’m a student” syndrome.

The “what if” syndrome attacks me almost every time I’m on a new college campus, and has an alarming tendency to start me down a path of doubting almost everything I’ve done in my life. I’m walking around this campus, which is obviously more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen, with well-rounded photogenic students attractively lounging around on the quad under the sun (because it’s ALWAYS a beautiful day). Suddenly I’m struck with doubt: “OHMYGIDDYGOD. GW is terrible. Only devil children go there, and it smells like a urinal. I’m surprised people are still allowed to walk on it and it hasn’t been declared a SUPERFUND sight yet.”

This is, of course, ridiculous. GW has no need to pass out HAZMAT suits at orientation. Sometimes you get a whiff of urine, but once upon a time I was wandering down the brick paths, gazing at the lines of tulips along the sidewalk. I have also been that incredibly attractive and well-rounded student posing on the quad like there’s a photographer shouting instructions.

I actually delved into my MYSPACE to find a picture I took on my first campus visit… and it’s literally of nothing important on campus at all. I think I was overly impressed by the flags and the tulips.

Nevertheless, I always have to wonder “what if?” when I see people relatively my age living a different life. What if I had decided to go to X college? Would I have still studied International Affairs? Would I have even heard of International Education? Maybe I would be some sorority girl dance team captain who purchases clothes on a regular basis and not continue to wear the same (plain) tshirt from high school.

You see how dangerous this is. And this is my life! I actually caught myself thinking today (as I was strolling down a beautiful gardened and shaded path on campus), “I wish I could just, like, live fifteen lives and do everything I want.” Well… yeah. I think everyone wants that, ya idiot.

The second syndrome is the combo “I’m so old/how dare you think I’m a student” outrage. I am in the delicate stage in my life where I am beautifully ageless (or so I like to think). While this is a bonus for my modeling side career, it doesn’t work so well when a parent wants to feel their child is in capable hands. (Yes… their 18 year old children. I know.) So I stress over how to do my hair so that parents think I’m trustworthy, what shoes to wear to promote my “stylish yet mature” aura, and if stenciling in wrinkles would be overkill.

However, I also have a tendency to prematurely age myself. In all honesty, I’m not THAT much older than the undergrads and I like to think I’m relatively hip (or at least as hip as I ever was in my hippest youth). I think I age myself because I yearn for the day that I can go to bed at 9pm with no shame or judgement. But every time I see widdle freshies walking around campus with a pair of khaki-wearing and map-toting parent, I feel a twinge of, “That was me! but now I’m ADULT! If I were living in the 1500s I would have 32 children by now!”

In conclusion: today, I spent an INORDINATE amount of time talking about my cats (old maid Kristen) but ALSO talking about my mother (little baby Kristen). I think this point brings it home. AAAND scene.

THE BELLY! (maybe I’ll just end every post with a cat picture).

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One thought on “"You work for a university? So do you, like, teach?"

  1. Pingback: Kristen McCarthy, Harvard Graduate | Books. Food. Adventures. Life.

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