Forming cross-generational friendships in college
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
As we climb the ladder of our post-secondary years and enter the precarious place known as the “real world,” we form a variety of relationships. Although the bonds formed in high school are usually with friends close in age, the ones we make in college often feature someone much older (or younger). This is especially true for a school like Douglas College, where the students have diverse ages and lives. Your classmate could be a 40-year-old mom pursuing her degree, or a nervous 17-year-old kid fresh out of high school.
A side-effect of being around people of different ages is developing a friendship with someone five, 10, or even 20 years older or younger than you. A platonic relationship with someone of a different generation may be unconventional, but it can also be very rewarding. The older friend offers life experience, different perspectives, and a mature look on situations to the younger. In turn, the junior friend can provide a youthful energy, encourage the older in facing new challenges, and a serve as a reminder of what it’s like to be a certain age.
An older friend is more likely to support you in ways not always possible for someone your age, based on experiences they’ve had. For example, a recently engaged person might receive better advice about marriage from a friend who’s been married for a long time compared to a single one. Similarly, a student unsure of what to do in their studies would do better to talk to a friend who’s graduated from university or spent more time in the institution, rather than someone in their exact same position.
Of course, the relationship can work just as well for elder-to-younger contact. A mature student attending post-secondary school for the first time might have better luck talking to a current student, instead of friends who may have been graduates for decades. This even works for dating, if a mature adult finds themselves suddenly on the market again.
Significantly older or younger friends can be the best guides to talk with about certain situations, as they usually have no prior personal or professional relationship with the advice seeker. Being able to speak to someone who isn’t related to you can give a reassuring feeling of neutrality.
It’s an unconventional relationship, but it occurs more frequently these days. Cross-generational friends can be some of the most trusted, pure relationships you have. They will teach, inspire, and lead in ways simply not possible with someone in your own age group. Above all, the different perspective given by an unconventional friendship is invaluable.