I was thinking about how Ive always been a little behind for my age. Ive always hung out with younger people. Im just starting to figure out what that means.
Some things you might notice about being the *ahem* “mature” person in your crowd:
Your Peers Are Within About 3 Years of Your Age
These are people who could be in exactly the same stage of life as you and it wouldnt look weird. Im in a serious relationship and Im starting to take my writing career more seriously. If youre under 26 you probably dont have that kind of relationship. If youre over 32, a lot of people are (unfortunately) going to be like what writing career?
People within three years of your age look at you like youre one of them. Any more of a difference and you might relate to each other, but it isnt the same kind of competition.
It Can Be a Pain in the Ass Figuring Out Where to Go
When I was 24 I spent every day with this 20 year old gay guy named Pablo. Wed go out every Friday for 18+ night. Wed pregame in his car. Sometimes Id get a drink inside, but then Id feel guilty and offer to pick up one for him. Then we had to find somewhere inconspicuous to stand so he could drink without them seeing.
You also learn real fast which stores you can bring your friends in while you pick up the liquor and which stores will look at you like youre some kind of youth-corrupting hoodlum. Whereas in fact youre just the oldest person on your Spring Break trip. If it werent for you, your friends would have to give their booze money to some strange person hoping he wouldnt run off with it. Come on now.
You Dont Feel Your Age
But then you go to a club where the floor is sticky and youre crammed between like 200 people and theyre all 21, and you see a real difference. Theyve got those chubby little faces. Theres that giddy, pompous energy in there that only short-term thinkers have. You grew out of short-term thinking a few years ago. People dont treat you like youre too old to be there yet, but you are not at that stage of your existence anymore.
Younger People Show You How to Do Things
It feels awkward the first time this happens. Like I used to go to this bar that had a lot of undergrads around on poker night. I was 25 and they were like 21. So it was a gap but not weird. They set up the right music for me so my first shroom experience would be a good one.
I know a lot of people experiment with that earlier. But these were a great group of people and I never felt self-conscious around them. You shouldnt be self-conscious about doing things at 25 that other people do in undergrad. As long as the age gap isnt enough to make other people uncomfortable around you, its fine.
You Date Younger Guys
Probably not that much younger though. The younger men Ive been with have been younger by 4 years tops. There wasnt much of a lifestyle difference. But the dynamic does change a bit. I didnt have more power in the relationship, but I felt like some outside force expected me to be wiser than him because I could talk when he was still in utero. Plus one of them had some neckbeard calling him beta because he was 22 and I was 25. (He ignored it.)
I did feel like kind of a badass dating younger guys though. That kind of thing is transgressive in your early twenties. But when you get a little older youre just two people and it isnt as big of a deal.
Youll see it if youre a woman whos a little behind for your age. Its acceptable for a man to be that fun five-o-clock-shadowed straggler who doesnt want to grow up. But everyone wants women to have their shit together because were the ones who get stuck setting an example. Look at the oldest person in the room when you go out. Its always a man. What do women do in their thirties if they dont have kids, stay home knitting booties for their cats? Sexism. Gotta love it.
You Might Start To Feel the Difference Later On
Back when we were in college a few years didnt matter because everyone was doing the same thing. Later, those people graduate and have good jobs and youre like gee, Rob is 25 and works for Facebook?
If youre less successful than your friends youll feel intimidated. And if youre the one who gets serious while theyre still in their party years youll start looking for people your age or older to spend time with.
My boyfriend is almost 6 years older than me. Im starting to look at 35 year olds as almost-peers for the first time in my life. At first I thought that would make me feel old, like Im just resigning myself to not being able to hang anymore. But its been just the opposite. I like being the young person in the room for a change.
*Image from a page on signal.co that tells people how to market to millennials.