I grew up as the youngest child in my family, surrounded by older siblings, cousins and of course, parents. I remember sneaking round to listen to their adult conversations but being promptly chased away. In a sense, I have not lost that curiosity to hear what older people have to say, even when I got older myself and earned my space at the sit of elders. Lool.
Interestingly, as I grew into myself, I realised that most of my friends were older than me. It seemed easier to make friends and get along with people who were above my age bracket. And then as I got older, the reverse became the case. Lol, this life! Most of my friends were younger because I loved the zest they carried. Although I still considered myself young, I felt like I had seen it all sometimes and I became less adventurous.
My relationships are a bit more balanced now, I have all sorts of friends, some younger, some older, all of whom I love and enjoy. They all bring colour to my life. If you are concerned about the practicality of having strong ties with people outside your age bracket, here are a few things I learned from them.
Lessons for every season
Like I mentioned earlier, as I grew older I became ‘cautious’ and somewhat wary of life. I felt I could predict outcomes in life and slowly started becoming set in my ways. Hanging out with younger people and seeing the world through their eyes helped me appreciate youth and life in different ways. Watching them strive towards their goals without abandon, possibly because they hadn’t failed much yet, ignited the same in me. On the flip side, my older friends may have failed many times but seeing how that has only made them stronger, more informed and wiser, tells me that failure won’t kill me and we can come back from it better. There is definitely a lot to learn from people that aren’t your peers.
Having friends outside your age bracket can shape your perspective in life and somewhat make it more balanced. Although it may not be as easy or straightforward as making friends the same age, I believe you can make it work if you are intentional about it.
Focus on finding other mutual factors. It could be love for art, or music or fashion since these things transcend age. Be willing to be vulnerable and reach a middle point in the other person’s life. If you are single and close to a mother of teenage sons, empathize with the demands of her life. etc. There is no rule book really, except maybe to remember that people will always will people. And that as people, we respond to since intentions of love and respect.