About relationships...

About Relationships...

I was watching a TV show yesterday night - Gray's Anatomy. To me, this show is all about relationships. So is another show I enjoy, Desperate Housewives. It seems like the relationships in both of these shows are continually changing. It's so interesting to see how the characters in each show handle these changes. Each character tries very hard to make and stay friends. Some relationships work well, and others self-destruct. But for most of the characters in each show, relationships are important.

It was a big, a huge change for me to become a non-traditional student. It wasn't just the classes and homework that was challenging. It was making new relationships at school that became a challenge in a new way. How would I fit in? I felt very different from other students, and I was nervous about that. I wanted to have a good experience, too, and for me, that meant connecting with other people as well as learning.

I feel like my quality of life, how I feel, and how well I do in my jobs, my personal life, or at school is greatly influenced by the quality of my relationships in each situation. It is when those relationships founder, or never are established in a good way, that major problems can occur. Plus, for me, I can't really be truly happy unless part of my life includes relating to others. That goes for all aspects of my life - including going back to school. Like many students, the first time I was in school, my major focus was my friends. Now, the focus was changed when I went back to school as a non-traditional students. My main focus was now my education - - but I still wanted to make friends, too.

As a former (and current) non-traditional college student who was attending class with many younger students, I worried, especially at first, about whether or not my classmates would accept me. I pretty much knew that they wouldn't invite me into their social activities, mainly because who wants a parent - or somebody the age of your parents - to attend a social get-together when you are in your late teens or early 20's? Nobody. At least, I wouldn't have if I were their age.

I was very surprised to find that some of the younger students were very accepting. They didn't seem to care a lot about my age. Some didn't seem to be as accepting - but that could have been just the way they related to others. They kept to themselves, or just talked with people they already knew from other classes.

It was very nice when I was able to make friends at college who were older, like me. We just seemed to have a lot in common. It was easier to relate. I didn't have to leave my comfort zone. But I still wanted to connect with younger people, too.

With younger people, like most of the people were in my classes, I found I had to "put myself out there" and introduce myself a lot, or start up conversations. This took some self-prodding to make myself do that. It is something that I would have found almost impossible when I first was in school, but now I can make myself do it. It still is not first nature for me, but I was very glad each time when I forced myself to take the lead and try to draw somebody out of his or her shell. After the ice was partially melted, it made everything a lot easier and the atmosphere in class a lot less stilted.

The first time I was in school, I very seldom interacted with my professors. I was just too shy. This time around, though, I felt a lot less intimidated, and was able to accept help and advice if I hit a rough spot. My professors welcomed my questions, and I felt I learned a lot more through personal interaction with my professors as a non-traditional student.

What are your thoughts about the importance of relationships? What has worked for you as a non-traditional student to make real friendships? I would love to hear your stories. Maybe "put yourself out there" a little and you can even do it anonymously here.