I was thinking about how I’ve always been a little behind for my age. I’ve always hung out with younger people. I’m 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 wouldn’t look weird. I’m in a serious relationship and I’m starting to take my writing career more seriously. If you’re under 26 you probably don’t have that kind of relationship. If you’re 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 you’re one of them. Any more of a difference and you might relate to each other, but it isn’t 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. We’d go out every Friday for 18+ night. We’d pregame in his car. Sometimes I’d get a drink inside, but then I’d 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 you’re some kind of youth-corrupting hoodlum. Whereas in fact you’re just the oldest person on your Spring Break trip. If it weren’t for you, your friends would have to give their booze money to some strange person hoping he wouldn’t run off with it. Come on now.
You Don’t Feel Your Age
But then you go to a club where the floor is sticky and you’re crammed between like 200 people and they’re all 21, and you see a real difference. They’ve got those chubby little faces. There’s that giddy, pompous energy in there that only short-term thinkers have. You grew out of short-term thinking a few years ago. People don’t treat you like you’re 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 shouldn’t be self-conscious about doing things at 25 that other people do in undergrad. As long as the age gap isn’t enough to make other people uncomfortable around you, it’s fine.
You Date Younger Guys
Probably not that much younger though. The “younger men” I’ve been with have been younger by 4 years tops. There wasn’t much of a lifestyle difference. But the dynamic does change a bit. I didn’t 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 you’re just two people and it isn’t as big of a deal.
You’ll see it if you’re a woman who’s a little behind for your age. It’s acceptable for a man to be that fun five-o-clock-shadowed straggler who doesn’t want to grow up. But everyone wants women to have their shit together because we’re the ones who get stuck setting an example. Look at the oldest person in the room when you go out. It’s always a man. What do women do in their thirties if they don’t 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 didn’t matter because everyone was doing the same thing. Later, those people graduate and have good jobs and you’re like gee, Rob is 25 and works for Facebook?
If you’re less successful than your friends you’ll feel intimidated. And if you’re the one who gets serious while they’re still in their party years you’ll start looking for people your age or older to spend time with.
My boyfriend is almost 6 years older than me. I’m 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 I’m just resigning myself to not being able to hang anymore. But it’s 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.