Friday, May 27, 2011

The Benefits of Multi-Generational Friendships

Most of my friendship circle is limited to people my own age: fellow Gen-Y-ers. These are friends with whom I can talk about music festival experiences, friends who share a mutual love for Caleb Followill, who can relate when I bitch about how my casual job is so low-paying, who are struggling to finish their undergrad degree or are fresh out of uni and still have no idea what they want to do, and most of all, friends who understand the bane-of-our-existence when it comes to finishing assignments (damn you Facebook!). But I’ve also been blessed to have a few friendships with people in their young teens, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties…you get the picture. Such friendships are very special to me and I would almost go so far as to say they are more special than the ones I share with people my own age. That’s no dig on my Gen-Y buddies but being friends with people from different generations has given me a unique perspective on certain things in life.

Hanging around my Gen-Z friends brings back memories of high school, silly crushes on the opposite sex and the hilariousness of early teen melodrama. I’m absolutely floored by my Gen X friends (mostly mums) and their multi-tasking skills. I envy their ability to balance work with being devoted parents, on top of doing regular volunteer work - many have even gone back to do further study. I’ve always found my Boomer friends to be some of the most encouraging and generous bunch I’ve ever met, always offering a kind word or opening up their homes to people. They know what it is to be broke, self-conscious and unsure of yourself in your teens and twenties, to go through the striving and stresses of early parenthood and to come out the other side.

Once a month I get the privilege of hanging out with a group of seniors. From my Builder friends I have learnt not to sweat the small stuff when you’re young - still working on the application of that pearl of wisdom. And contrary to the belief that oldies are boring, I have learnt from these lovely people that you can be vibrant and have a sense of humour even when you’re an eighty-something. I’ve observed in the youngest and oldest friends among my acquaintance a lack of inhibition, or an un-self-consciousness (is that a word?) that I find incredibly inspiring. People like 90-year-old Ilona whom I wish I knew personally!

I only wish I could say I had more multi-generational friendships. If you hear of any elderly ladies who want to hang with a 20-year-old girl, tell them to get in touch.

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