We have been groomed to surround ourselves with people who fall into a certain age range. Well, most of us have, anyway. But when trying make friends after college, limiting ourselves to a specific age group can make the process more challenging than it already is (if that’s possible). Does it really matter if our new friends are more than a few years older or younger than us?
When we were kids, it did. What self-respecting fourth-grader would be best friends with a person who is still figuring out shoe laces? What high school freshman would dare to be seen chumming around with a 12-year-old sixth grader? As kids, our bodies and maturity levels were forming at warp-speed. So the only reason we’d hang out with someone more than a year younger or older than us was if we were best friends with that person’s sibling. Or if we were part of a neighborhood crew.
Once we entered college, the only two ages we thought about were 21 and under 21. But that didn’t mean we hung around people vastly different from us as far as age went. We were basically living in captivity with thousands of other people the same age as us, so it would have been hard to be buddy-buddy with a person who wasn’t between 18 and 23.
Now that we’ve been released into the wild, what’s stopping a 24-year-old from being friends with (gasp!) a 30-year-old?
At this point in our lives, interests, goals and lifestyles should be trumping age when it comes to friendship.
Think about it. Who would you rather hang out with: a 23-year-old who is married and trying to have kids or a 35-year-old who is in grad school and an avid rock-climber? The answer to this question depends entirely on what interests you more at this point in your life: becoming a mom or becoming an extreme sport athlete. The choice is yours.
Last year when I was fresh from the college zoo, I assumed every grad student my boyfriend and I hung out with was close to the same age as us. We’d have beers with these guys, listen to their bands play, see their tiny apartments and witness their attempts to pick up ladies at the bar. Classic 20-somethings.
But throughout the year, I learned that he was 28, she was 32, that other guy just turned 27… and for some reason it surprised me. We were raised thinking that certain ages meant certain milestones and expected lifestyles; but often these expectations are way off.
Take my co-workers as another example. One goes to concerts monthly, one is an avid skier, one is living the single life. Our senses of humor, political views and tastes in TV shows are all the same. Not one of them is under 40.
Now that you’re an “adult” in the real world, your friends should be people who interest you and share your passions. Don’t worry so much about that imaginary number we call age.