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What it’s like having friends who are much older than you

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What it’s like having friends who are much older than you

Mehreen Zahra-Malik

When I entered my twenties, I gravitated less towards my high school friends and more to the friends I made in college. All of my college friends, however, were considerably older than me.

Having now spent a good two to three years primarily surrounded by people older than me, I’ve learnt some interesting things about being the “baby” of my friend group.

Being close to individuals who are senior to me means they have increased and varied experiences, wisdom and maturity. Because of this, I’ve always felt that spending more time with them has led me to gather interesting insight about the world.

Learning from their mistakes

Although this can apply to any closes-knit social group, the reason I single this out is because you get to take in experiences that you haven’t yet gone through and get insight and wisdom as they are happening to your friends. For instance, many of my female friends are currently dealing with pressures about marriage, something I have yet to experience. Seeing them handle and learn from this high-pressure experience makes me believe that I’m becoming equipped to deal with similar challenges when it’s my turn.

Additionally, another area in which this comes into play is that of careers. Given that most of my friends are much older than me, a lot of them have been in the workforce for a while and have obtained their masters degrees. As someone who has yet to pursue their second degree and is just starting out in the workforce, having experienced friends help and guide you through this transitionary and difficult phase can be a huge help. Hearing their stories also gives you guidance on being professional and conducting yourself and your interpersonal relationships in the workplace.

You have access to opportunities other people your age may not have

This applies to both professional and social opportunities. Because everyone is older they have access to certain contacts you may not have. This can include contacts from their extensive time in the workforce or alumni from their universities, who are also older and more experienced than your college batch mates. As a result of this, you have the chance to mingle and network with various professionals you have not have had access to otherwise which can help propel your own career.

The opportunity to grow and mature in a unique way

Having a social circle of people considerably older than you makes you persistantly ponder about where you want to be when you’re at that age. This then helps you plan your life and goals in a more structured way. Although you don’t necessarily need to be in the presence of senior people to do this, constantly being reminded of your youth in comparison to those around makes you more cognisant of it everyday.

Moreover, you get to mature and grow as you watch your older friends deal with situations that you aren’t going through. This includes experiences with their work, families and romantic lives. One such example is hearing the struggles that my older friends are going through as they watch their parents age, a thought that hadn’t occurred to me yet as my parents are still relatively young and working. Watching them make their future decisions based on factors such as wanting to remain close to their ageing parents makes you reevaluate your own life and relationships while keeping these future intricacies in mind.

However, it’s not always positive. There are certain disadvantages that also exist when you’re consistently surrounded by people older than you.

You can sometimes be treated as the ‘baby’ of the group

Because all of your friends are well over 25 and you haven’t even hit that mark yet, it’s common for them to oftentimes dismiss you due to your youth. This sometimes happens because they have certain shared experiences which you don’t have as yet making it common for your opinion to be belittled when you chime in, due to your lack of experience in comparison to theirs.

You can’t relate to a lot of their struggles

Due to the fact that your friends are going through very different experiences and are in different places in their lives, it can be tough to relate to many of their struggles. This makes it hard for you to provide effective solutions and support when they’re going through these issues which can make you feel like less of a friend.

At the end of the day, however, I feel lucky. I have the opportunity to be consistently surrounded by and learning from people who have more life experience than i have, and my personal relationship with them makes it so that they guide me and help me in the areas where I slip up.

Keep up to date with more news at ProperGaanda: Why some people choose not to attend their high school reunions


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