With summer rounding the corner, it’s always a pleasure to continue the conversation as we progress toward the in-person situation. To preface, this column primarily revolved around older adults and how ageist perspectives inherently degrade our understanding and appreciation for the aging process. We covered topics from careers in the aging field to how ageism affects our media consumption habits and everything in between. But, as cool, relevant and hip as it is to talk about a variety of topics relating to older adults, my column will be switching things up to cover some reflections and lessons learned by actual older adults I have met throughout my life. As someone who lacked cookie tins filled with knitting supplies or days spent with grandparents growing up, I often recommend going out to work or volunteer with older people (socially distanced with the right precautions, of course) and learn something new.
“Make the best out of the family you [have] because you’ll only realize what you miss once you’ve lost them.”
Today’s tidbit of advice comes in from an older woman who I met three years ago during community service rounds in my senior year of high school. Given that she was speaking pre-pandemic, her words also speak to the nature of graduation, seeing friends, partners or family members leave sacred Trojan ground for professional endeavors.
This life lesson also speaks to the nature of the pandemic now that we are pushing onto a year and three months of quarantine. Many of us may have lost those friends, partners or family members set to don graduation robes in what was a tumultuous and traumatic time in our lives. A return to ‘normalcy’ for some begins this summer, and for others, that return may take a while to come around. However, the nature of the post-pandemic restoration gives us an opportunity to heal and grow from a period of loss and grief. This opportunity absolutely calls for us to truly appreciate what remains in our lives today.
Maybe the pandemic gave you an opportunity to reflect on friendships and see who really stood by you when the world screeched to a halt. Maybe the pandemic provided you time to figure out what you wanted out of life, whether in terms of relationships or self-improvements. Maybe you took what was probably a well-needed social media break, considering that it always feels like a new problem pops up with every refresh. Maybe you just stopped and watched the whole thing go down. While now may seem like the time to figure out what is going to happen moving forward, do not forget those who got you through the whole mess in the first place — the friends, partners and family members.
For the folks making their return to campus in the Fall after spending only a handful of months on the stomping grounds, remember the relationships you had when you first started out. Also, know that it is totally OK to cry after not seeing your friends for a whole year. Go nuts.
For the new folks, enjoy the campus when given the opportunity. Meet new people and be open to the changes that come your way. While you may have missed out on high school or early college experiences, now is truly the time to make up some lost ground. Explore campus for what it’s worth, and enjoy being in the presence of newfound friends and classmates.
We all have a little bit of catching up to do, that’s for sure. So make the best out of the time you have left as a Trojan because before you know it, you may already be up on the stage receiving your diploma.
I hope that you, the inquisitive reader, will join in on this masterclass of advice from people who have truly lived through it all.
Lois Angelo is a rising junior writing about the timeless lessons learned from older adults. He is also a co-chief copy editor at the Daily Trojan.