Editor’s note: The original illustration attached to this story was removed for internal reasons.
I am 20 years old. I am in my third year of university. And two of my best friends are 75 and 81.
Sure, I have a solid number of friends and acquaintances my age. They are great, I love them. But sometimes hanging out with people your age or about your age gets stale. Twenty-somethings and those in their late teens can be hella irritating at times (myself included) – all confused and emotionally volatile about life. Sometimes you just need a change of pace.
I babysit a bunch of kiddos and that’s fun. They help me sustain a sense of innocent curiosity within my person. With them, I can play, smile and laugh with little thought. The kiddos are great. While this is a change of pace I do love, I am most fulfilled when I spend time with older folks who have experienced a lot more life than I have. Particularly, with my two older friends I receive the perfect dose of guided wisdom and effervescent curiosity.
With them, I am simply my learning self. I do not feel the slightest pressure to perform. They are genuinely interested in exchanging stories and experiences. With these older friends, authenticity rings loudly. Transparency becomes the standard when communicating. Clarity comes naturally. Insecurity dissipates. What these folks do without fail is actively listen and critically respond, all while coming from a place of love.
More than anything, however, my 75-year-old and 81-year-old friends give me so much perspective. The urgency I feel for certain things in my life lessen when I am with them because they help me realize that nine times out of 10, things will be okay. In most circumstances, the things we are doing are not a matter of life and death. Much of the time, especially as UC Berkeley students, many situations are blown out of proportion (i.e. grades, internships, relationships, etc.), in which every problem seems like the end of the world. Yes, most of us want to do well in this game of life … but we must put things in perspective and understand why we are doing what we are doing.
The grounded and rich conversations I have with my older friends help me gain some of the wisdom that many of us could use at this age. I have spent the last two years hanging out with them just as much as, if not more than, I have with people my age. I wish that more college students found older friends who have been through life to get some perspective from. I was fortunate enough to hit the jackpot of coming up on some young-minded older folks who are just as curious about what I have to say as I am about listening to the wise words they have for me.
I feel so grateful to be a college student who has two best friends who are older than 70. What I learn from them is invaluable.
These friends of mine may have graduated from university quite a while ago. Well, were the ’60s really that long ago? What is time after all?
Sure … we don’t have class together. No affiliated extracurriculars. We don’t generally meet in cafés to chat or catch up. No beer drinking after 7 p.m. And we have yet to go to a dance club together. So, you may ask, what do we do? Well, we eat a yummy lunch at the dining table of their home, typically on a Sunday, and fall into deep conversations for the duration of the afternoon.
I couldn’t be more thankful.
Contact Gina Wright [email protected].