Today was the first day of orientation at the Fashion Institute of Technology and I was very anxious about it. Which seems silly, but at the same time also completely rational. I'm making a huge life change by coming back to school in my 30s. Losing my job, applying for fashion school, finding an apartment, moving across the country; the whole last year of my life has led to this point. It *is* kind of a big deal. Today was the first day of the culmination of all the things I've been working for, and honestly, of me following the dreams I never knew I had.
Honestly, I've not been looking forward to orientation. So much of it seemed unnecessary to me personally, as I am not right out of high school, I'm not living on my own for the first time, this isn't the very beginning for me. As an 18 year old kid going to Colorado State University in 2002 I didn't really know what I was going to get out of my college experience. But now, in 2016, I know exactly what I want and need to accomplish here.
Looking at the orientation schedule a few days ago I got somewhat flustered because it implied that I would need to be at the school from 9am to 11pm every day this week, which seemed super excessive to me. "I'm already oriented!" I proclaimed. "I already know how to student, just let me student!" "Look at these life skills I already have!" *Starts throwing out paperwork and business cards erratically.*
My life isn't without transition right now, but my transition is so much different than most of the other incoming students. The thing I am most anxious about was knowing how much time was necessary for this week's introduction to the school. The older I get, the more I realize how valuable my time really is. Especially since I have been making such an effort to limit the things I do in order to focus on the things I love. I didn't want to sit through lectures about how to be a college student. I know how to do that and did it for 4 years over 10 years ago.
This morning started with one line after another. I was in various lines from around 8:15 to around 11:45 and all I had to show for it was a catalogue, a t-shirt, and a student ID. Orientation is generally a student-run event, so because of this it was a little bit of a shitshow, I won't lie. It's probably like that at every university. This absolutely makes sense to me - these students haven't worked for years as event planners or speakers. They come up with ideas to bring a little school spirit into the new class coming in, not figuring out what the best way to flow students from one event to another. Running a fluid event is difficult, but with a little experience you learn stuff like how to figure out where your lines run, how to move large groups of people from space to space, why making people wait 45 minutes for crappy hamburgers in an unshaded sunspot can make them real crankypants, etc. These kids (and I can call them kids because I am 14 years older than some of them) can't have the life experience to know how to do that. BUT, they did have some amazing speakers lined up such as the dean of the school of art and design, the president of the university, and a professor sharing her knowledge about sustainable design. Interestingly enough, they were all women, which was super inspiring.
The students also had an activity where you could MAKE YOUR OWN STUFFED ANIMAL TIGER THING! I was super stoked. You actually were just given a deflated stuffed tiger that you got to fill with fiber which is *I guess* like build-a-bear but I have never done that so it's all new to this gal. I was PSYCHED.
But I digress. For the most part, I felt like I did a lot of standing and waiting. Or sitting and waiting. But I did meet a few people, as I tend to do, and that was a positive experience. I didn't speak with any other fashion design majors today, but when I mentioned that I was one people always seemed impressed. "Oh, that is really hard here!" Most of the students were doing things like merchandising, marketing, or fine art.
And like I said, I found the speakers very inspirational especially having been through school once before. I very much appreciated the things they said about how education is so important and how this time in your life really helps you learn who you are and who you can be.
Earlier in the day, we played a game in one of the auditoriums called Interruptions. Basically, someone stands up and says "Hi I'm (person's name) and I am (interesting fact about them)" and as they describe themselves or their likes, another person will "interrupt" them and say "I also am (interesting fact about them)" and they continue on with other facts about themselves or their interests, as people continue to interrupt when they have something in common. At one point a girl got up and said "I'm (name) and I like theatre!" and there was a somewhat uncomfortable pause as no one immediately jumped in. Internally I was like "oh god here we go" so I of course stood up and said I liked theatre. Then I decided to put my biggest hangup right out there for everyone: "Hi, I'm Kristi and I'm 32 years old!"
People. Freaking. Cheered.
Not just a little. They screamed for me. It made my heart swell. It was so validating.
I am confident in my age and the fact that I am a non-traditional student this time around. I'm confident period, which is something I noticed that was different about me versus the other students. I've earned confidence from experience. But I am aware that I have a baby face and could legitimately pass off as a 22 or 23 year old. In the right setting, such as orientation at FIT, I could probably even pass as a 18 year old. But I'm not. In the sea of baby faces, it was desperately important to me that people know that for some reason. I have been around the block and I am coming back to school because I am FOCUSED and I am following my dreams to educate myself in order to be the best designer I can be. That was the thing killing me - I felt like I needed to differentiate myself because this experience is one I have worked so hard for. I worked for it during my first bachelor's degree. I worked for it every time I had setbacks in my graphics career. I worked for it the day I could admit to myself I wasn't happy with design. I worked for it when I realized fashion design could be a viable career option for me.
It may be a little irrational, but I accept that. It's okay to be irrational sometimes, but I hope I'm also being level-headed about my irrationality.
The rest of the week has a lot of programming I feel like I can skip out on. Thankfully there's no attendance taking or anything, so I feel comfortable picking and choosing the meetings that seem right for me. I had been really worried about this, as if someone would give me a demerit if I didn't attend the "How to be a college student" sessions. Tomorrow there are some events in the afternoon that sound interesting so I will probably go check them out. I'd also like to find all my classroom locations, and I have been slowly getting emails from professors with the class syllabi and supply lists. So a trip to various supply stores will be necessary as well.
All in all, I am feeling way less nervous now that day one is complete. I am excited in a non-anxious way about classes starting next week, and am very much looking forward to jumping in purse first! I also think there will be plenty of time for mental preparation to start this journey officially a week from today.