Raise your hands if at least once, you've come across someone in real life or social media and think "Oh it'll be great to be friends with this person… but they are so much younger than I am".
Chances are your friends are in the same age group as you are. And if you're slightly liberal, perhaps your youngest friends are 3-7 years younger than you. When I say friend in this context, I don't simply mean an acquaintance or someone you follow you Instagram. I mean a real friend - someone who you talk to often, share interests, laugh and do life together.
Not many people have friends who are way younger than they are. And it isn't any one's fault. It's basically the way society operates. Our earliest social interactions are often age - based, starting from nursery schools and sometimes right up to university where you have to be a certain age to get in.
You're probably wondering what inspired this post. Three things.
First - a few weeks ago and totally out of the blues, I suddenly remembered a book I'd read at about the age of 9. It was an A5 thick spiral bound book and a collection of short stories - one of which was the story of a 17-year-old boy and his 7-year-old best friend! I'll love to lay my hands on a copy of the book again to re-read the actual facts. But I recall thinking it was such a genuinely sweet and true friendship - and at that point longed to have such an older friend. They played basketball together, and while the younger chap talked about his school work and other 7-year-old issues, the older young man related his experiences with his first job and girlfriend stories. Remembering this story inspired me to write this topic down as a potential blog post.
Secondly, turning 28 last week made me realise that a lot of people around me are pretty much younger than me and doing so much amazing stuff in different spheres of life. It didn't help that one of my readers sent me and sort of chipped in the words "Oh you're old!".
Thirdly and on the flip side another reader reached out to me and I was so pumped. She's way older than me - possibly twice my age - but she said she loved my blog and was going to share it with her friends (in her age group) because she believed that despite our age difference, there was always something they could learn from my posts.
So I did a mini dance and finally decided to write this post.
Thinking about it, I also recall when I remember when we hosted the Career Workshop and someone said she'd have loved to attend - but imagined that the audience will be full of younger persons and she wouldn't have a great time. Such a shame because having younger people and friends around you totally rocks.
Here are my top 5 amazing reasons to have younger friends!
1. Be a Mentor:
There's something pretty amazing about acting as a mentor to persons younger than you, and showing them the ropes. This could be in different areas - career, relationships and life in general. There’s a huge chance that older people have gone through whatever insurmountable mountain younger persons think they have to deal with.
I read a funny story about how a young man had asked his older friend why we had to ‘dial’ numbers on a telephone - as opposed to just touch the numbers as we do on cell phones today. The older man - in a fit of amusement I imagine - responded explaining how telephone boxes worked in the past such that you had to put your fingers in the dial and turn it around. Funny right!?
By having career chats with younger people, I've met some amazing friends one of whom was my frolleague (a colleague + friend)!
2. Learn & Develop Your Interests
For people who will rather chill with only people their age, the not-so-good news is all the friends in your age group might be totally uninterested in learning about the one thing you're utterly fascinated with. So if you insist on walking around with a chip on your shoulder and not integrating with persons younger than you, you'll never learn these things or do the fun things you truly enjoy. So shake it off and go find some younger friends to share your fun!
3. Keep Abreast with the Times
It seems like with each passing day, things change so quickly and life becomes slightly difficult to keep up with. Take technology for example! Except you're such a techie, chances are that with age comes some lagging behind. You probably have had such experience with your parents trying to explain SnapChat or Instagram to them. I’m not even that old and I’ve personally found it so confusing. But my younger friends have attempted to come to my rescue! Asides technology, younger peeps also help keep your slangs, fashion sense, and music very up to date so you don't feel left out from all the fun stuff.
4. No Mid-Life Crises
Seriously. With younger friends around you, some of their hype, and general enthusiasm is bound to rub off on you. There's no room for you to sulk and moan about getting old and potential mid-life crises when there's someone half your age who's willing to drag you to the next 'in thing’. I know that once I get to my 30s, I'll probably make a conscious effort to surround myself with young exuberant people.
5. Expand your Point of View
In today's world, it’s easy for us to see things only from our point of view and experiences. One way to combat this is to ensure that we relate with a wide range of people across cultures and age! I’ve often heard older people say millennials are lazy and feel entitled. Such opinion will probably be shared only by people who have no millennials around them as friends or colleagues.
Oh and one piece of advice.
When relating with your younger friends, please don’t sit on your high horse. Because as you can see, it brings a whole lot of good to the older person. So avoid saying all those really annoying phrases like "In my days" or "when I was your age…!".
Finally, having younger friends need not be confined to just our social interactions, but is also really useful even in professional settings.
What are your thoughts and what's your friendship circle like? Are the more the younger or older friend. How old is your youngest friend and what's the one thing you've gained / loved about that friendship.
Leave a comment - It’s always awesome hearing from you!
ps: Maybe I’m not that old. I just realised I’m classed as a Millennial even though I’m an 80s baby.