One way that I consider myself not a stereotypical millennial (or, not another millennial, ha, ha) is that I am not just friends with millennials.
But over the course of my life, I’ve been known to befriend those who were 15 when I was 20 (which at the time is a big difference), and even those who are more than ten years older than I am. Perhaps it’s part of being an only child…but it’s always been a part of who I am, and it’s led to me meeting one of my best friends.
My best friend and I are only eight and a half years, give or take, apart. We’re truly not that far apart in age, but we’re far apart enough that we grew up surrounded by two different sets of pop culture (as evidenced by the fact that he was born before A Christmas Story debuted in theaters), two different newsreels of current events and witnessed two different types of parenting culture.
We met almost eight years ago as we were both part of the same local theatre troupe — and it was one of those friendships in which you click instantaneously. Neither realized how old the other was until later on and had a good laugh over the fact that I thought he was younger, and he thought that I was older (or, as he described it, “way mature” for my age).
The rest, as they say, is history. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t speak to each other. We have a language that is truly all our own. Our age difference has not mattered to us in the least, save for the fact that he can get a little overprotective at times (which I pretend to protest, but secretly love), and we’ve joked about how I was in fourth grade while he was in his senior year of high school. I also taught him how to use Twitter (in 2011 when not everyone had a Twitter account) and his BlackBerry (back when BlackBerries were a thing). Hello, millennial natural digital native prowess.
But while our age difference has not mattered per se, we have a few differing philosophies — and that fact is a direct result of our respective upbringings taking place in two different eras.
Most notably, my best friend has had some choice words about millennials and is one very proud Gen Xer (his 1980 birth year puts him right on the cusp but he is not, in fact, a millennial)…who, on occasion, shares posts on Facebook about “what’s wrong with millennials.” And you can bet I get on his case every single time he does…to the point that his latest post had a qualifying paragraph that was meant just for me.
While we had a good laugh over it, we’ve also had some great discussions that have led to a better understanding — on both sides — of our differing philosophies.
We’ve been able to do that. We’ve been lucky enough to respect each other and have an exchange of ideas, even when our work methods or political ideologies differ.
So, for those of you millennials who find yourselves with a friend or friends of a different generation, use your friendship and mutual respect for each other to encourage discussion. Both of you are most certainly entitled to your feelings and opinions, and you are also allowed to disagree. Be sure to listen to the other side. But don’t let one disagreement signal the end of your friendship.
Because I really don’t know what I’d do without my best friend.