A couple of years ago I made the decision to go back to college. I knew it would be a challenge but one thing I didn’t expect was that my past would have a run in with my present. Settling into my first day of class, I started to convince myself that I really didn’t look too much older than the other students. However, that thought came to an abrupt end when I felt a tap on my shoulder, “Excuse me,” the girl behind me said. “Did you used to babysit me?”

Sure enough I had. “Oh my gosh, that was like so long ago, I totally remember,” she loudly exclaimed. “So why are you here? Are you like teaching this class or something?”

My toddler-age classmate and I spent the rest of the semester comparing test scores and essays and thankfully, I did better than her in the class (I needed some kind of ego boost.)

I am aware that I suffer a bit of arrested development; it’s a condition I have had since I was about 21. However, I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone, there are many of us in the South Bay, that still act like we are 21. I have had my moments of trying to act my age, there have been times where I have actually said “no” to going out for drinks on a weekday, saved my money to pay parking tickets instead of spending it on shoes, and I have even taken my car for an oil change within the month it is due.

I don’t have a husband or kids to make me appear as though I am a 32-year-old women, therefore, it’s kind of up to me as to how I act or responsibilities I want or don’t want to take on. As far as looks go, I have to say, I look pretty young for my age, but not as young as I used to look. Something has happened in the last couple years to where there are times I don’t even get carded at the grocery store and people are getting closer and closer to guessing my real age.

While I thought that going back to school would fit with my “Peter Pan” syndrome, it actually reminded me that there are some profound benefits to finishing college at the age appropriate time. While it is true that I am young in spirit, I really don’t care to go back to the days of eating Top Roman and partying on a Monday night.

However, I knew that it was time to step out of my comfort zone and into a world of Internet studying and late night essay typing. When the semester was over, I was relieved although not completely satisfied with a couple of my grades. I honestly didn’t do as well as I should have in a couple of online courses that I took, but I figured at least no one but me knew about it. Well, I was wrong.

Just a few weeks ago, when my friend Jen and I went out for some “happy hour” drinks, she called her friend Jill to join us. When Jill sat down, I wanted to climb under the table, but instead I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Jennifer, I recognize your picture, I actually took your online anthropology class last semester,” I said with a little embarrassment.

She said she remembered grading my late emailed papers and online tests and we both commented on what a crazy coincidence it was that I was in her class and we have a mutual friend.

“How old are you anyway?” she asked you don’t look that old.

I wanted to tell her that I was older than a babysitter, younger than a homeowner, and somewhere between going to college and getting married. But instead I took a deep breath and simply said, “I’m 32.”