Take a simple visual sweep across any crowd of people in Halifax and you'll notice a lot of diversity. Whether it be the stage-front area at a killer rock concert, or a first-year Intro to Psychology university class, a whole spectrum of engagement emerges from the behaviour of those in attendance.
Let's run with the rock concert angle for a moment: On one end of the spectrum are the true thrashers. To them, dipping your toe into the mosh pit is a legally binding waiver of responsibility. Their batteries are recharged by the band's shredding guitar solos; their life force cleansed by every masterful roll of the bass drum's double kick pedals. They can be seen jumping, singing, headbanging, crowd-surfing and engaged in any other activity that allows them to wring the experience for every drop of its ass-kicking goodness. However, the majority of mosh pit floor space is ubiquitously consumed by those on the other end of the spectrum: Tiny suburban boys fruitlessly endeavouring to protect their even tinier suburban girlfriends from the dire threat of so much as brushing against any human beings around them.
I am a thrasher. Moreover, I am a 33-year-old thrasher. I was around for all the older tunes that contemporary artists are now sampling. I've seen trends come, go, and come back. What is now being called "retro," I refer to as "childhood." What's important here is that decades of concert-going have greatly refined my experiential palate, making it increasingly difficult to find artists who satisfy my now stringent criteria for what constitutes a good rock show. The fact that there are so few bands that fit the bill—plus the ever-increasing ticket price—means that when one tours within my reach, you better believe I'm going to get the most out of my experience, even if it means not fitting in with everyone around me. I'm excited to be there, I'm sacrificing a fair amount to be there and I want the most out of it that I can achieve. That's why I rock hard.
Interestingly, this formula transcends concerts and applies to most experiences in my adult life. Including the mammoth decision I made just one year ago: to hang up my mouse and keyboard as an award-winning graphic designer and begin a 10(ish)-year odyssey toward obtaining a PhD and becoming an experimental psychologist. My art school background offered precious few credits eligible for transfer so I essentially started my undergrad degree from scratch, alongside numerous others in the same boat. Most of whom, however, were nearly half my age. By the end of the first year, I came to discover that I was twice a statistical outlier—first in age, but also in my surprisingly high GPA. After a bit of thought, it became clear to me why.
Years of experience, errors and triumphs have helped me discover what I truly want out of a rock concert experience. That, plus the fact that there are a handful of other ways I could (and sometimes should) be spending my time, means that I'm going to make the most out of it, despite those around me who are still figuring things out. Well, ditto for university.
It's easy to dismiss people who don't fit the norm, but now you have a sliver of insight into the approach of an adult student. So if you see me, or any of my chronological cohorts, in any of your classes this year, please don't roll your eyes when I ask two or three questions in any one class. Please try to see that my consistently good grades are not an attack on you. And please try to keep in mind that the main reason I'm such a nerd is because years of experience have helped me find my calling. I'm just answering it. I'm just thrashing.