younger friends

The Benefits of Having Younger Friends

You may be used to hanging out with people your age or older, but having younger friends is rewarding in its own way.

You’ve heard hundreds of times that you should make friends older than you because you can gain a lot from it. You’ve got built-in mentors, people to give you rides and someone to make a mistake first so you don’t. There’s also benefits, however, that you can gain from having younger friends.

Remember everything you learned from older friends; it’s now your turn to be the grown-up (per se), and you can learn a lot from the experience. Being the older one establishes a mentality that prepares you for the future. You’re no longer the young one in the crowd; now, you’re the one people look up to.

Even with someone a year or two younger than you, there’s always some sort of advice you can share. Your expertise is perfect, in fact. You just finished experiencing something that they are stepping right into.

It’s the best time to impart wisdom and a great opportunity to practice your advice-giving skills. You’re inspired to watch yourself more closely and to retain valuable lessons when you have someone to pass them on to with the purpose of helping them grow.

The greatest benefit of your wisdom, however, is the ability to help others avoid making the same mistakes you made. The lessons you learned from the experience not only help your future but also help your friend’s future. In return, when you share your story with someone else, you’re less likely to repeat the mistake.

Most college students probably aren’t parents yet. Having younger friends to look out for will, therefore, help you develop your paternal or maternal instincts. The younger the friend, the better.

As a result, you’ll be a little bit closer to being ready for parenthood when the time comes. Having someone to look out for will help you move away from selfish tendencies, or even help you move away from the loner mentality.

You can also develop some valuable leadership skills outside of the classroom setting. Having people who look up to you puts you in the position of taking charge with decisions. Ultimately, they will look to you as an example.

Another benefit of having a younger friend is the chance to see yourself from the outside. Your friend might possess certain flawed traits close to your own. What you were once blind to in yourself, you get to see in another person, and your eyes are opened.

By realizing how not-so-lovely these traits are, you want to improve yourself. Then, when you do that, your friend sees your changes and wants to change too. Again, you both benefit.

Younger friends will open your eyes to a new perspective, especially because they have different life experiences from you (Image via Huffington Post)

Having a younger friend opens your world to an entirely new perspective, primarily the one that matters the most: the next generation’s. Your friend will keep you informed on what’s new, what’s current and what’s trending. They’ll be fluent in the current styles of social media and communication.

They can teach you what the younger generation is thinking and feeling, offering you a footing in reaching out to them — because, more than likely, you will have to reach out to them in some form or another. Whatever profession you pursue, knowledge of the next generation’s perspective will be invaluable.

In turn, you can educate your friend on the perspective of the generation above them. After all, it’s just as useful for the younger to understand the older. Less ignorance will open doors for both of you in the future.

Additionally, having a younger friend will lessen the likelihood of stereotyping other generations. Every millennial college student has probably experienced the “your generation” cut down from someone older. You don’t want to be like that, right? Getting to know the younger generation helps you let go of preconceived ideas influenced by the media or “bad apples.”

With a younger friend, you might also find someone who shares an interest in something that others in your generation overlook, maybe something new aimed at the younger people. That said, you’ll have a mutual fan with whom you can share your passion.

You know what’s even better than having a younger friend? Having a younger friend of a different culture. It’s a fantastic way to get an in-depth culture lesson. A younger friend will likely be around their family more often, especially if you’re in college, and they’re still in high school.

As a result, you’ll not only get to experience their culture, but you’ll also have a makeshift family to hang out with while you’re away from your own.

Another benefit, possibly the most appealing, is that with younger friends, there will generally be less drama. When you spend time with people your own age, there could be a tendency for competition or jealousy. When you and your friends are different ages, however, you won’t feel the need to hold your own in the group.

There’s less likelihood for everyone to try to outshine each other. Being at different stages in life allows you to live freely without worrying whether you’re keeping up with your peers or not.

As you get older and enter the stage after college, having younger friends will be even more valuable. Studies have shown that having friends of all ages will help you live longer and happier. Keeping in touch with these younger friends will make future years more pleasant.

They will have a fresh energy and perspective to keep you on your toes. Plus, you can keep imparting wisdom to them as they follow behind you.

Reach out to other students in the years below you, and expand the friendship age gap. Embrace the next generation. They’ll reap the benefits of having you for an older friend as you will for having them as a younger friend.

Catherine Gregoire, University of Texas at Austin

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Catherine Gregoire

University of Texas at Austin

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