With age comes wisdom.
I was in my early 20s when I first befriended someone older than my parents who treated me like a peer instead of someone to mentor. In the years since, I have gravitated toward intergenerational friendships, and I treasure them in ways that are unique to any I have with people my own age.
1. They're done with bullsh*t.
That “I'm too old for this sh*t” line from Lethal Weapon isn't quotably hilarious because Danny Glover is a comedic genius; its humor lies in its relatability to everyone past a certain age. That age could be 25 or 55, but at some point, all of us grow out of the trivial garbage that used to obsess us when we were younger and had a more limited perspective.
Older folks have already drawn their lines as to what they will and will not tolerate in their lives. They're not chasing material trends, fighting about what some jerk said about them behind their back, or trying to get to the top of any trendy guest list. This is awesome because it pretty much guarantees they won't be the source of flighty, self-centered drama, nor will they let you get away with it, either.
2. There are no pretenses.
Too often when we're young, we find ourselves in friendships that we feel like we have to “keep up” with, where we keep score of favors or wonder if we're pulling our weight or feel disappointed when our friends don't meet our expectations. The older friends get, the less they seem to care about petty details like whether you're around for weddings or funerals; as long as you show up and express your appreciation for the friendship when you get a chance to get together, it doesn't matter how long it's been since you've caught up or gone out or exchanged gifts.
Nobody has anything to prove and nothing to gain except the joy of each other's company. That's a recipe for a perfect friendship.
3. They're less judgmental.
We humans tend to be judgmental about things we don't understand. However, if you've been around enough people for enough time, eventually you have connections to a huge variety of life experiences and points of view, which has a tendency to make each of us more empathetic.
With an older friend, not only have they seen it all before, but their widened perspective allow for a better understanding of how much things ultimately matter in the big picture, and they're more likely to let you live your life without judging your missteps.
4. They have amazing stories.
Not to say that young people don't have some pretty great stories, but older folks have had more time to acquire awesome experiences that took place long before a lot of us were even thought of. It's one thing to learn about history in a stuffy classroom with a stressful test at the end and quite another to hear about how things used to be from a first-person perspective.
Whether you're talking about significant cultural events or adventures of their youth, hearing about the recent past from someone who lived it makes it exponentially more fascinating.
5. Their self-assured confidence is infectious.
Arguably one of the most wonderful things about growing older is no longer caring about the critical opinions of others, which comes from a strong sense of self. This is not to say there aren't fully-grown adults who still struggle with a sense of identity and/or insecurities, but for the most part, the older someone is, the more self-actualized they are.
Those who are happy with the person they've turned out to be, carry with them a joie de vivre that is both engaging and inspiring for those of us still trying to find our place in the world.
6. They give stellar advice.
Life experiences are what brings us wisdom, so ipso facto, more years under someone's belt means more wisdom in his or her mind. No matter how much you've gone through, someone who is many years your senior has seen more — personally, culturally, and socially.
Their casual wisdom not only helps them navigate life with as little suffering as possible but can give you greater insight than that of your peers.
7. They're not fair-weathered friends.
Something that comes with maturity is the realization that authentic friendships endure through hard times. Older friends aren't afraid of rough spots and they won't bail the first time something gets too real because they've been around long enough to know that most hardships are conquerable.
Not only is this the best ally you can have, but it will teach you how to show up and be present for all the stages of your friendships as well.