We often hear that young people are the future. We’re not just the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today. I call BS. Well, not totally. We do rock. But we only rock and roll with a little nudge—advice from people who are more experienced than we are.
As I write this, I’m on hour 38 of traveling from bed to floor to desk to bed since testing positive for Covid-19 on my 21st birthday (HAH!). After I canceled our lunch plans yesterday, Jane, whose name has been changed for privacy, drove to my dorm and dropped off Amato’s pizza and a cake. Today, she called me just to check in. My friendship with Jane, who is 86, has been one of the most important relationships I’ve made in college.
I started talking to Jane in February 2021, when I was desperate for some sort of connection to Brunswick while taking classes off-campus. We’ve called or seen each other almost every week since then. We connected through a program organized by People Plus, a community recreation center for older adults in Brunswick. The program, “Calls to Homebound Elders,” really should have been titled “Calls to Homesick/Lovesick/Sick-of-School/Sick-of … You Get the Point College Students.”
Even after returning to campus, it took a while for Bowdoin to feel like home for me. Though my friendships and interests at school fluctuated, Jane’s willingness to listen stayed consistent. After two years of asking for her advice, I’ve come to realize that although she is many years older than I, Jane is teaching me how to be young. We are the future only because of previous generations that helped shape us.
So, here’s my idea: a classic advice column with a twist. Bowdoin students can anonymously send in questions about anything—school, friendships, jobs, relationships, etc.. Every two weeks, I’ll send submissions to People Plus, and an older community member will write back with their advice, which will be published here. You can access the google form via the QR code here. Or, if you’d like some privacy as you type out your deepest, darkest qualms, you can find the QR code on the inside wall of the bathroom stalls in Smith (let’s be honest, we all know you’re on your phone and doing some of your best contemplating in there). I’m hoping this can be an opportunity to hear fresh perspectives on life from people who have seen it all.
Please enjoy the first submission of the semester. I’ll see you in two weeks!
Q. I’ve been at college for three years now, and I still think about my high school boyfriend. I’ve gotten to know, and even dated, a few people since then, but I’ve never felt the way I did in high school. I know why we broke up, but I’m still curious about him. We’re both going to be in our hometown over spring break. Should I reach out to him? If not, how do I get over him?
A. High school romances are something very special. We tend to revisit them in our minds from time to time and wonder about that person—we are only human. No matter what the reason for the breakup [was], the “what if” question is a natural one to pop up.
I would suggest that you reach out to him; back in my day it would have to be done by a phone call or mailing a note. Let him know that you are going to be in town visiting your folks over spring break and ask if he would like to get together for a cup of coffee. Simply tell him that it would be good to see him and catch up. Go meet him, ask him to tell you how his life is going, and see where it goes.
One thing that I have learned over the years is that the ‘could have,’ ‘should have’ and ‘would have’ wondering does you no good.