Lifespan Longitudinal Study
Carol Smith is a 55-year-old female. She has two children, Brian, 29 and Keisha, 21. Her Husband died 4 years ago due to Diabetes and other complications. When we first met up to start the initial interview, she seemed like a woman young for her age. She is a petite woman with short brown hair with fair skin; she was actually an attractive person. I really did not have a hard time to speak to her and to interact with her because right from the start, she was very kind and warming. She was a very nice woman and I observed that her attitude towards everything was so positive. Carol is currently a volunteer worker for an organization that caters to children who were abused, maltreated, and taken advantage of. Right now, she is living with her daughter and her daughter has adopted child. Her family was quite well off judging by where they live in.
Carol grew up with a well off family. Her mother was from the suburbs and her father grew up in the city. When they got married, they started a business that garnered more than enough income. Her father’s family was apparently well known in their place and everybody liked her father and mother. On the other hand, her mother’s family was not too fond of her father. She really didn’t understand why though. She said that it was not that they had any biases about rich people but rather they had biases about her father. I have learned that they didn’t like her father because, though potentially rich, they thought that he didn’t have much to offer my mother. They kept on pushing her to marry this soon to be doctor. They thought that she would have more of a future with him. In the end, her mother did not finish college, got married to her father and had her older brother.
She showed me a picture of herself when she was a child. I never thought she was that girl in the picture because the girl in the picture was plump. She was not fat however it was obvious that her natural body type was slim. She had thick shoulder length hair and smooth skin. Her teeth were apparently a “dentist’s nightmare” as she described it because she did not have straight teeth back then.
In most pictures, she was alone except for pictures with relatives. Her childhood memories were still intact by now. She clearly remembers every detail like it just happened yesterday. She told me that her father was strict when in comes to her. She did not understand back then why it seemed that her brother had the freedom to do everything he wanted and everything was opposite when it came to her. They lived in an exclusive subdivision near the city. She narrated instances wherein her father became strict to her: First, she didn’t have playmates in the house because she was the youngest and was apparently surrounded by adults. One time she wanted to go out the house and play with her playmate (she told me that she didn’t have many playmates during her childhood years. Actually, she only had one, aside from her classmates and friends in school.) but her father didn’t let her. He always scolded her for being so young and always going out to play. Second, she got scolded for following her brother to the basketball court a couple of streets from her house. Her brother often played basketball before and she wanted to come with him because she wanted to play in the playground. The park was only a couple of streets away from their house so she asked permission from her grandfather then he agreed, and she followed her brother. When they got back from the park, her father scolded her and she remembered that she was crying. Her parents were not believers of using spanking as a discipline practice but they sometimes slap her hand lightly when she did something really bad.
Being in the house and playing by herself most of the time, she developed a sense of creativity. She wasn’t really bored when she played by herself; she said that she was actually happy. It was not that she developed imaginary friends but she would always imagine wonderful situations using simple toys and stuffs. She also told me that during first grade, she was finished at the top ten of her class. Up to 7th grade, she garnered good grades, which pleased her parents.
During her adolescent stage, her father was still strict towards her and thus resulted in having negative feelings towards him. They did not have a good relationship. It was more on authority rather than love. She narrated that because all her life, she was surrounded with adults, she learned to converse and think like an adult. Therefore, at such a young age, she was emotionally mature. When she entered high school, her grades were not as high as they were during grade school. Looking back, she said she could not recall why she was lazy to study back then. She was too focused on her friends and being on the cheerleading squad that she was too tired to study. However, when she got her SAT score she recalled that she was at the bracket of the above average percentile. Because her classmates teased her during grade school, over the summer break, she made a pact with herself that she would get thin. True enough, when she entered high school, she was physically different. She was slender, she already got her menstruation, and she said that at that time, she was more focused on how she looked. She said what people thought of her was important for her back then.
When she went to college, she decided to make use of her creativity. Before, she was soft spoken about her ideas about certain things. She was afraid of people judging her by what she said that she kept silent. In college, she decided to remove her fear of being judged by others and started being more confident. She was more outspoken and more of an extrovert.
She told me that from the start, she was an unconventional thinker. It was not that she did not abide by the rules but she tried to go out of the box and do things creatively. Whatever she did, she made it a point to be creative and put all the effort that she can give. She said that she was quite a competitive person. This started since she started dancing. With her, being a competitive person was a positive thing rather than negative because she always made sure that she did everything with much effort so that the result was rewarding.
During these years, she tried to overcome her shyness. She made it a point to be friendly to everyone and open her circle to more people. Before, she was so timid and was afraid of people. In social gatherings, she would always be by herself because she was afraid to be the first to initiate interaction with other people. She was a friend that she would be out of place if she was the first to interact with them.
Because of her good academic record, she immediately had a job after graduation. Physically, she gained weight again. She also had pimples on her face and she had braces to straighten her teeth. She had long hair and wore whatever she wanted not caring what other people thought. Emotionally, she was fulfilled. She loved her life and she loved whatever is happening to her. Yes, there were problems that hurt her in the past like break ups with a 4-year relationship and her dad dying but she got over it and those negative instances made her strong. During these times, she recalls that she became fond of poetry. She loved the idea of reading, interpreting, and making poetry. She showed me a couple of poems that she has written and they were good.
Now, as she is on her old age, she still looks young. It is observable that she has freckles but besides that, she has no wrinkles on her face what so ever, she has flawless skin, and she dresses well, appropriate for her age, but well. She was not as slender as before but she is curvy. As I have stated earlier, she is currently volunteering in an organization that helps children. When I asked her why she does this, she told me that helping others came natural to her. She felt that she needed to give back to God for all the blessings he has given her and her family and she did this through helping others. She felt happy and fulfilled whenever she helped people. Socially, she sometimes is still that timid girl. She described herself as sometimes being “anti-social” in the sense that she seldom wants to be with people and she finds fulfillment to be by herself. She says it’s more of a time of “reflection” and “cleansing” whenever she was by herself. This was the time to introspect about her life and the thins that she needs to do and to straighten out.
Based from my observation and her narration of her life, Carol’s physical appearance changed from stage to stage. Her body structure and even facial characteristics were distinct from each stage. In terms of her cognitive development, she was really intelligent and creative and this was conveyed throughout each stage. Being emotionally mature seemed constant through out the years. Socially, she struggled with some issues. Throughout her life, there were instances where she was socially active but there were also times wherein she was not.
At first, I really did not like this assignment. The thought of interviewing old people was boring and ridiculous. It felt like such a chore to do this assignment; but finally, I did it. I wanted to interview a person that was a complete stranger to me because I find it more exciting.
I met Carol in the park. My observation of her was that she seemed like an approachable woman and this was validated further when I got to know her. I was first nervous when I approached her because I would not know what her reaction is but as I got to know her, I felt at ease with her. She was actually easy to like. While I was listening to the story of her life, I was so sad for her but at the same time, I admire her for being so strong (there were certain problems in her life that were so bad but I did not include in the paper due to lack of relevance in the topic). I really learned a lot from this experience and I really learned a lot about life from Carol. She was so philosophical and she was so intelligent that I really admire her. I learned the value of relationships and the value of trust and honesty but the most important thing that I have learned from all this was that faith in God never cease to fail.