Below’s blog is written by Sophia and in the perspective of a grandchild reflecting on life lessons from her grandparents.
Everything ripens with age.
That’s what they say, isn’t it?
The things, the places, the people that we love only get better as the years go by. Your favorite song from elementary school still forces you to get up and dance the same way you did at the fifth grade formal. Your favorite restaurant still makes that same meal you’ve eaten ever since that one birthday dinner you had in fourth grade, and it still tastes just the same. Your family has grown in more ways than one; the wrinkles have grown and people have left the home, but you all still gather around the table at Thanksgiving, sharing laughs over the oven roasted turkey that grandma always makes.
You turn to look at your grandparents, the head of the family. In that moment, you realize that they were once in your shoes: the scared high school senior, seemingly unprepared for the world that lies ahead. Even though they may have grown up in a time where the animals of the music world were the Monkees instead of Imagine Dragons, they have survived the same situations that we have. They dealt with friendship betrayal, bullying, relationship troubles and the normal fears surrounding growing up. So instead of ignoring them, claiming that they can’t understand what it’s like to grow up in this generation, take the time today to talk to your grandparents and take in what they are telling you. They’ve been through it all, the good, the bad and the hormonal, and it’s time to tune in to their lessons.
After a conversation with my own grandmother, I have compiled the top three lessons that I have taken away from her into this little article, and hope you can take away her lessons too.
1. Follow Your Dreams
As soon as my grandmother graduated high school she joined the workforce in the accounting department for a big company. Although she dove headfirst into her work, she still had dreams. She wanted to be a nurse, almost from the time she was born. She had hoped to help those who couldn’t help themselves, but that wish never came true. Growing up in a family with five kids, expenses were tight and her family could not afford for her to further education. And so, her dream was covered with corporate bills and financial statements.
She told me she regretted it. She believes that being a nurse was her calling, yet she had missed it. She may not be spending her days crying about the career she lost, but there were days in which a part of her felt missing, a certain hole in her heart that could only be healed by a stethoscope and a cotton swab.
Following your dreams may sound a bit basic and somewhat childish, but the dreams that we hold near and dear to our hearts don’t appear randomly. Each and every single one of us has a passion and it’s up to you whether you choose to follow it or not. When it comes to our seniors, however, we tend to hear either stories of unimaginable happiness or loads of regret. They tell us to follow our passions, our dreams, for if we don’t, we never truly live.
2. Don’t Overthink Things
Easier said than done, am I right? It’s so easy to tell ourselves to stop worrying and start living, but it’s extremely hard to implement this lesson.
My grandmother would often overthink, especially as a teenager. The common thoughts, such as, “What if I don’t fit in?”, “Am I studying as much as I should be?”, “Does everybody like me?” These negative thoughts and ideas often stop us from achieving our dreams (hey, sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) and keeps us from being truly happy. If we spend most of our lives overthinking and ruminating on the thoughts and actions of those around us, we lose our own autonomy.
My grandmother mentioned that the thoughts disappear overtime and with a little maturity as well. Although this safety net of the future may allow some people to excuse the overthinking thoughts, there is actually a way to jumpstart your freedom from these negative thoughts and feelings. “Just do it,” my grandmother says. Just do the things you feel like doing.
3. Don’t be easily influenced
In a world often governed by the changing fads and trends, we so often follow the crowd and go with the flow. Now I’m not saying that it’s always a bad thing. After all, I’m all about being in my Reputation Era and dressing all up in pink and going to the movie theater as soon as July 21st rolls around. However, there are times in which we need to stand out from the crowd and showcase our individuality.
When she was in high school, my grandmother would be constantly surrounded by “powerful and influential forces that reach far beyond our control,” or, in other words, peer pressure. Instead of the common vapes and drugs of our time, she would be pressured to smoke cigarettes. Unlike the rest of her classmates, she would stand her ground. She wouldn’t let anyone tell her what to do, because she would stay true to herself.
High school is just that. High school. It doesn’t define you, nor do the people in it. As my grandmother always says, “don’t care about what other people think of you.” If everyone is doing something that you do not feel comfortable with, don’t do it. Fitting in with the crowd is overrated anyway…
Now there are countless lessons that we can take away from our grandparents. The ones I’ve learned may be commonly sung by your grandparents as they trumpet the triumphs and turmoils of their youth, but some may have never heard of these lessons and stories from their own grandparents.
And so today, I’ll leave you with this. Invite your grandparent(s) to sit down and talk with you. No matter the time, no matter the duration, no matter where and when, get to know their stories. Share soulful stories, tragic tales and lifelong lessons over some homemade cookies (yes, the ones that grandma is known for making). It may be hard to imagine it, but they’ve been in your shoes before, and so it might be time for you to take a dive into their past and uncover the lessons that lie just below the surface.
All while scarfing down a delicious chocolate chip cookie, of course.