- Gina – 24 years old
- John – 71 years old
The young and older adults inherently displayed various perspectives on life-related aspects. Gina demonstrates a more relaxed approach as her family members are all alive and well. She does not give significant meaning to any childhood memories or activities since they occurred relatively recently. Meanwhile, John exhibits a more reflective approach. As his parents are deceased, he speaks about them with fondness and respect. He mentions that his childhood memories, despite being trivial, seem to have had an impact on his development or character. The memories and interests strongly relate to his parents and how his relationship with them had evolved.
In terms of greatest changes seen since childhood, the young adult recalls financial crisis causing many to go into poverty, since it is the most prominent and impactful event of the latest years. Meanwhile, the older adult notices several social changes and perceptions amongst the population, as well as changes in the workings of the system. There was a strong contrast when discussing personal aspects of their lives including relationships, medical history, jobs, and education.
The young adult demonstrated openness and desire to discuss her life, frequently mentioned her partner, and openly spoke about a serious medical condition that impacted her life. The older adult remained very private, particularly about medical history. He shared basic facts about his family, education, and employment, mentioning that he has been in many cities around the world as part of his job as an auto mechanic. However, while the older adult seemed determined in his answers, the young adult showed insecurity and lack of concrete detail.
When discussing lifestyle and daily routines, both adults did share similar behaviors. Both expressed fondness of spending time with family and partners, their fondest memory being associated with their love interest. Both use exercise and good eating habits as an attempt to practice preventive health, realizing that these choices can impact their lifestyle. Both enjoy relaxing hobbies during free time and mostly socialize with their respective partners. For significant historical events, the older adult mentioned the Vietnam War, while the young adult chose the 2016 Presidential Election. Interestingly, both events had tremendous consequences and significant political outcomes in their respective eras, reflecting the impact of such events.
For more deep topics, both adults shared some commonalities but there were some differences in perception. Both selected a major part of their life (disease and children) as their greatest achievement, feeling that the experiences have made them unique and stronger. In terms of regrets and coping with death or personal mortality, the young adult seems relatively inexperienced and scared of these concepts, referring to the future in aspects as aspirations.
The older man shows certain numbness and acceptance, seemingly not bothered by any of such difficult topics. Finally, when giving advice, the young adult brings a common theme of the current millennial generation of balancing love for oneself and those around you and achieving progress this way. In contrast, the older adult provides the advice of forging one’s own path without attempting to justify excuses based on other people.
Personally, my views on adult development did not shift significantly. It was expected that the young adult would be more open, vocal on recent issues, and focus on one’s unique identity or characteristic. One could expect a certain level of naivete and, at particular points, excessive care for seemingly uncontrollable factors. Meanwhile, the older adult exhibits deeper understanding, acceptance, and confidence in his life choices, as well as able to reflect clearly on the wrong and right choices made in life.
I think it is a natural occurrence that one’s personality shifts as one acquires life experience. The most surprising aspect for the young adult was the bravery with which she faced her health problems. She showed a profound understanding and value of life. This could be extended to the older adult, who even at 71 years of age demonstrated remembrance of his parents and regret of being unable to spend more time with them.
The advice given by the younger adult was more relatable to me as I am the same age group. I feel that it is an important concept for our generation to balance the care for ourselves as well as demonstrating empathy to those around us. It helps us, in a healthy manner, to become advocates for positive change and progress. We no longer close our eyes to the many injustices around. However, I can also relate to the advice of the older man.
As a generation, we young adults tend to make excuses and shift blame. In fact, all blame should be placed on us and it should be a motivator for success. The hardcore element of the older generation to pave one’s path is much rarer nowadays.
I think in contrasting these lessons, I have learned much about myself. Throughout, the interview I kept thinking of how I would respond to these questions. I was forced to think about difficult topics. It helped me grow as an individual as I identified my strengths and weaknesses, and my own process of adult development. In a way, I did change my perspective on growing older. I realized that individuals grow wiser but may face similar fears as a child would.
Also, I learned that certain emotions such as love transcend time and often serve as a supporting force for an individual. It became evident that growing older is a learning process, full of mistakes, many of which continue well into adulthood. However, it is our personal experience, knowledge, and beliefs which allow to appropriately deal with challenges to live a fulfilling life.