The tidbit of advice that I will be discussing today really takes a jab at the heart. In tradition with the gerontology column, all of the quotes that we dissect come from interviews and casual discussion posts with individuals who are in the field of aging, are older adults themselves, or both.
“If I could have one more minute with my mother, I would do anything. Every older person has someone that loves them and wants them here, and that’s what inspires me.”
The process of aging is one filled with love and loss, which both often intertwine with one another. The creation or maintenance of new relationships can often be met with them ending or falling through. However, the memories of those journeys are what many consider life to be all about. College students often experience a lot of love and loss in terms of relationships, with dating and friendships built upon convenience; however, the nature of the pandemic, as you have probably guessed, has made things a whole lot more complicated. Love has become more complicated with relationships in the virtual space straining emotions and mental health.
We have all experienced a great deal of loss in our life, whether it be losing a family member, falling out with someone you considered a close friend, or breaking up with someone you had thought to be the one. Loss is an incredibly difficult part of life that surrounds us each and every day. But as the saying goes, love finds a way. To avoid sounding like a pastor at Sunday sermons, I hope that you, too, can appreciate and cherish the memories that come prior to loss. Often, while it does stab and tear the heart apart, loss simultaneously puts life into a new perspective, one that often suggests making a change and living life in a new way that honors yourself or the one you lost. For me, losing my grandparents in a very short frame of time at a young age acted as a driving force to help me pursue gerontology in an effort to reconnect and create new memories with the older generation. A breakup, similarly, can teach us that maybe dating is just not our thing yet or that we still need to figure out what we really want in a relationship.
Many of us will begin the transition back to campus or even move out for the first time. For some, the notion of independence and liberation from nagging parents or siblings can be a weight lifted off your shoulders. The world can present an incredibly exciting adventure, jumpstarted by the promises of the college experience. And, if we are honest with ourselves, college is a less serious, more fun version of the real world all around us.
But often, leaving our families can be an incredibly arduous and emotionally draining process, especially for those who may be experiencing it for the first time. Again, independence always coincides with some form of loss, certainly, but it also provides new opportunities for love to grow. It is crucial to take some time for yourself and those loved ones around you, maybe taking that one minute or two with those who you may leave behind as you head off to college.
Lois Angelo is a rising junior writing about the timeless lessons learned from older adults. He is also co-chief copy editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Back In My Day,” runs every other Tuesday.