It is a common thing to find friends of almost the same ages, really common and expected. But in some rare cases, you get to have friends that are significantly older, sometimes more than a decade older. Isn't this really awkward?
My Personal ExperienceIf you think that I'm not in a position to say this to you or I do not have enough experience on this matter, I'm going to prove you really wrong. But afterwards, you are going to learn how to handle such conversations.
I can safely say that for some reasons I'm not so sure of, a larger percentage of the people that are comfortable with me as friends are actually older people. I really do not look like their age. And this has been since I was a little boy, I mean even as young as 9, 10 years old.
For this reason, I learned many things that even people of my age couldn't know. I was always able to sustain the interactions in my own small ways but I'd always try to maintain that gap shyly. You could see me showing obviously that "I'm not worth this interaction man. I'm just a little boy".
One very interesting thing I found out about some of these guys is that they would not always want to make you feel awkward or rudely infer that you are just but a small boy, but they would sometimes do so. Therefore, I know exactly how that feeling is when you are made to think that you are irrelevant because of the age difference.
It May or May Not be their IntentionsIn relating with older minds, there are certain rules you must subconsciously adhere to. On top of those rules is respect.
Many a time, older people would want to have young people around them and to discuss with. This happens for several reasons. Somehow, it could be that they want to be considered younger.
Well, it may not be their desire to be considered a younger person but it may just be that you have been able to successfully break into their heart. They now consider you worthy of their company, just like the local parlance that said: "A child that washes his hands well will dine with the elders". You may just have washed your hands really well either consciously or even unconsciously to you.
When the feeling of intimidation arises, it may not be their intentions. It may just have arisen from a spontaneous eruption of thoughts about the good old days, but to you, those days were never seen.
On the other hand, they may intentionally bring up those topics that you never witnessed by virtue of the age difference if they perceive that you are trying to prove that you can outwit them. That means they are just trying to put you where you belong because you now think you know more than they do.
What is That FeelingEveryone wants to be accepted into any group they desire to join. They want to be loved and not rejected by members of the group they want to belong to.
Whether it is the desire of the older persons to identify with the younger person or not, you will agree with me that it is not a funny experience when you are made to look inferior. True, age-wise you may be inferior but you really don't want anyone to remind you that.
The feeling of embarrassment is similar to how you feel when you are publicly disgraced.
All of these put together makes it necessary to find a way to be able to handle the situations in such a way that you have yourself and your ego in place, at the same time, not magnifying disrespect to your older friends.
How to Handle the SituationOne of the things you'd notice is that you will reflexly withdraw into your shell like a snail that is troubled. This reflex is actually a protective one and you must learn to harness it. I'm going to give you a list of what you can do to maintain composure in such situations and also prove to them that you are far more mature than your age tells.
Below are some of the things you can do to handle the situation;
1. Be Silent:Like I said earlier, you find yourself reflexly withdrawing when you perceive that he/she is about taking you down. This makes silence the first possible thing you can do in such situations. I must tell you that this is the easiest part of it all because whether or not you planned to do it, you just find yourself uncontrollably silent.
2. Don't Begin to Feel as if You have Lost Your Place:Truly, the origin of the pain and embarrassment is the sudden transition from the exalted position of being able to interact with your elders as if you were just as old to a position where you have no chance to alter a letter in their conversations. But like I mentioned before, it may not be their intentions to make you feel so permanently. If you begin to think you have no stake anymore in their midst, you may just accept to "remain where you belong".
It's also honourable to know your place and stick to it but you must recognize that for having been with them all these while means there is something you are doing right. And then, it is a rare privilege to be close to them because of the wealth of wisdom and experience you will stand to gain from them. So turning directly back without hope of returning means you are going to forfeit all you stand to learn from them in the long run.
3. Admit That You are Younger Before Them:Like anyone would guess, the reason for their actions at these times is to make you understand that they are still older than you. They want to make you realize that you may have known many things about life or you may have known certain things more than they do, but they are still older than you.
Whatever action or remark that triggered this response from them have to be noted and seriously observed in subsequent times.
In admitting that you are younger before them, you simply fulfil their desire for you to know where you truly belong. And by quietly affirming by saying "How do you expect me to know that? Don't you know I am a very small child?", you easily quell the storm. And in addition, you make him know that you are not as tiny as he wants to make you feel. You, in turn, gain more of their respect and you are good to go.
There may be other things you can do at this point but these are the ones I got right now. You can paint any scenario that you want me to respond to in the comment box after this post.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Being Close to Older PersonsIf anyone tells you that there are no benefits in being close to older people, they are obviously lying to you. And if they say there are no demerits as well, they are not being truthful to you.
When you hear of child prodigies, in the midst of many things like advanced intellectual maturation at an early age, you should also consider exposure to complex adults lifestyle and way of thinking or solving problems.
You become older in your behaviour than your age suggests when you actively learn from the adults that you are close to, your reasoning is enhanced and you get to know some of the adults' mistakes even before you commit yours. Experience is the best teacher but it is safest to learn from other people's mistakes most times so that you can escape the consequences that they also experienced.
What are the Disadvantages?Apart from their one-in-a-while degrading attitude towards you, there are other things that can prove disastrous to you as an individual. You must be wary of these as you go on with them;
- Beware of wrong influences - Some older people can be mischievous sometimes and would push the younger persons close to them to do some immoral things that they have caught. Some of these include: teaching the younger person to indulge in sexual exposures, drinking, and alcoholism, stealing and many others. This is a concern if the older person is wicked enough to allow you to pass through the mistakes they made. I've met so many like that who will want to pressurize you to indulge in the negative behaviour that they would regret never possessing in the first place.
- Watch out for negative ideologies - I have seen certain older people who have some crazy beliefs about life. They live very low standard lives but life has forced them to accept it the way it is. They have suddenly lost their fighting spirit and now believe that it is normal to live a foolishly simple life. Some of them do not believe in hard work anymore and they have a way of subtly rubbing that on people around them. Anyways, the wise one will still escape their persuasions, be they active or passive.
Over the years, I found out that older people enjoy the company of younger as much they enjoy being among themselves. The only thing they are wary of is having a young person amongst them that will show them disrespect.
Old People Enjoy The Company
Being with older people and the elderly is a double-sided game. Especially the elderly, they are less likely to insult you or advise you wrongly. The elderly people, I mean people greater than 65 years of age are usually kinder and full of useful advice. They would rather ignore your childishness or look for a way to gently correct you that to directly confront you in a way that makes you feel embarrassed.
Older people and the elderly also enjoy the company of younger people. I really can't explain why but it seems that they just want to see someone that looks like their younger self around them. They just want to be able to predict the what-happens-next of the actions they have once known about or experienced.
You could tell that from the smile they put on their face when they see a young person around them. They could probably be saying; "welcome my son, is there anything you wish to consult the oracles for today?"
There is so much to write about on this topic and I regret to stop so early. But I encourage you to drop some comments on some specific aspects of this topic that you want me to write about. In all, remember that maintaining communication with them is necessary to bridge the gaps that may exist in order to fully harness the gifts that they have received by virtue of being older.