Age Be Gone: Communicating with Older and Younger People
Disclaimer: This is not a guide on how to snag yourself a sugar daddy. Please leave.
If you took a rough estimate of the real, biological, birth-certificate-verified ages of your friends, what would the average be?
Are we talking high like Woody Allen? Or low like his step-daughter-turned-mistress-turned-wife?
While in my thought lab (aka my shower), I thought:
Can people excel further in life by surrounding themselves with friends the same age as them? Or are friends of different ages necessary for viewing life from different perspectives?
Most people are first introduced to socializing with older people when they enter the professional workforce. Whether this is a part-time job at McDonald’s or a legal career at a leading law firm, you’re communicating with people you probably wouldn’t otherwise. In most cases, age is the significant difference that precedes all of you.
This might be the first time you were communicating with individuals that resemble a similar age to your parents. The role you’re placing them in is not of a teacher, parent, or mentor. It’s a coworker; there’s a levelled playing field.
Diversity Creates Opportunity
Albeit surprising, differences can unite people, regardless of background, ethnicity, or sex. Through sharing our differences in a healthy and respectable manner, we can build empathy and establish relationships more effectively. Many existing roadblocks to healthy relationships include egos and a stubbornness to change.
The uniformity of hanging out with only a specific demographic is lame and dated. Diversity is what opens you up to new ways of thinking and empathy.
The variety in thinking teaches us new things and highlights the different perspectives. Conversing with people outside your age range can open you up to new experiences and different perspectives. Even an age difference of as little as five years can make all the difference in experiences and schools of thought. Through sharing our different backgrounds, we can empathize with one another and find resonance between them and us.
We are building relationships more easily and faster with those with whom we are close in age. The immediacy is grounded in the resonance of shared experiences. In other words: WE SEE EACH OTHA.
I can’t deny that it takes much less work to engage in conversation with someone that has lived through the same era of trends, fads, and cultural moments. There’s so much less catch-up needed.
This brings me to a thought:
What role does our age play in the relationships we seek to build?
Perceptions of Age and Its Impact on Communication
There’s something to be said for people that only have friends their age.
Are they allowing themselves to look outside the white lines and befriend new people?
It goes without saying: teenagers should not be out here befriending creepy old guys and gals. Teenagers should only have friends their age, but what about us adults? As we navigate through our twenties, should we be increasing our threshold for friendship?
Anyone But Our Parents
The younger adults stand to gain so much wisdom through having conversations with people that are older than us. Believe it or not, these “older” people are not trying to be maternal. If you think that parents just want to be parents or that people of an older age want to be mentors, you must need God.
Their way of thinking can push us to see differently if and when we encounter similar situations. People close in age to our parents can provide the same knowledge and advice; the only difference is that we will likely take it from a friend because it’s logical and not from the mouths of our parents.
Are We All Fighting to Remain Young?
From the time we enter elementary school, we’re encouraged to be open-minded and to create relationships through finding shared interests and hobbies. No attention is paid to age. Throughout high school, this same mandate follows, except now those “interests” are far more pronounced.
Your friends from when you were younger may drift apart because many of the interests you developed throughout your life may no longer exist. It’s about fulfillment and, in some cases, even social benefits; we all want to be popular in school.
Once you leave high school and enter the “real world,” you gain complete control of your relationships. No longer are you seeing your same friends every weekday at the same time. Much of the accountability is stripped from the education system and placed on the parties involved.
“You can’t make friends? Sounds like a ‘you’ problem.”
The Beauty of the Workforce
Not every experience is a good experience.
Having worked at a restaurant throughout my undergrad, I engage with people of different ages, sexes, and backgrounds. There were men and women in their forties, fifties, sixties, and maybe even seventies. I didn’t interact with these people too much because I found many of them hard to relate to; there was an evident racially discriminatory undertone. Do you ever just suspect that people are likely racist? It’s in how they conduct themselves in your presence, the stares, and even how they speak to you compared to others. It’s not judging if you’re absolutely right.
I decided to stick close to my small circle of friends, and they were a lot more socially and racially aware of the current global political climate. A bunch of older people arguing about why “Black Lives Matter” is discriminatory towards white people can become a lil’ fucking tiring and just plain stupid, for that matter. The sheer ignorance– I just do not have the time.
I chose to work at a restaurant because I thought it would be a simple means to earn money on the side while attending university. I did not sign up to handle this idiocy.
What is the future of the workplace?
One of the most significant changes of 2020 was Covid’s global takedown of in-person communication. For many, the workplace was rapidly transformed into a personal home office. This was great news for me because I loved being at home. I’m one of those people that doesn’t need to be in an office all the time to be productive or creative. I also enjoy the comfort of not having to get dressed every morning and making the trek to the office.
The Inevitable Truth That We Too Will Get Old
Wouldn’t you want to pave the way for younger individuals to respect you for your age when you hit 40? It’s all about laying the groundwork for a culture of embracing diversity and removing the barriers of ageing.
The Dated Facade of Maturity
There’s this awful misconception that people outside your age group are hard to relate to because they’re rigid. We can continue waiting until we reach their age to find out if life really changes your personality and mood. We have to work out more and exfoliate and cleanse more, but the general fibre of our beings, our personalities and opinions will only get better with time.
Overcoming the Generational Divide
This comes back to the schools of thought and how we all grew up. In many cases, people of different generations approach situations differently. This makes it that much more vital that we surround ourselves with as many different people as possible as much as we can. Meeting people with different outlooks and ways of thinking can help us recalibrate our perspectives and open us up to approach life differently.
When you’re only communicating with people close in age, you likely share similar experiences, interests, and hobbies.
This wobbly construct of ages and generations needs to be reshaped, reimagined, and restructured. A younger individual could greatly benefit from the years of experience in the life of older individuals. Older people can also benefit from the fresh perspective and endearing optimism of younger people. Since they haven’t gone through life as much, they likely haven’t been beaten down to the point where their perception of the world has dampened. It happens with age. Look at me quickly, throwing myself into that group. I am 25, so yes, I’m young. But really, I feel that when you spend your more youthful years hoping for change and witness attempts that fail, you lose the belief that it is possible. Then a new generation of changemakers come, and they try. It’s great to have that energy revitalized.
There’s this weird notion that the younger generations are more sensitive than they used to be. No, ma’am, it’s called tolerance and acceptance. We’re beginning to feel a new wave of openness and kindness amongst the younger demographic. This should instill hope rather than criticism. Exactly why you need to have younger friends.