My favourite Sex and the City episode is the one where Carrie turns 35. While waiting at the restaurant for her friends, she hears a table opposite singing Happy Birthday. The birthday girl screams, ’Twenty-five! F*ck, I’m old!’.
After Carrie’s friends didn’t arrive on time, they arrange to meet at a coffee shop. Carrie slowly let’s out, ‘I’m thirty-five. Thirty-five…’, to which Samantha blurts, ‘Oh, shut the f*ck up. I’m a hundred and forty.’
It’s a lighthearted scene of an older women putting things into perspective. In this case – turning 35 is not a big deal.
While it may not be age-related, Samantha is the most self-assured and confident. Out of the four women, her blunt advice lifted the show and offered the refreshing wisdom women still need to hear. This type of insight carried me through my late teens.
Having gone straight to work after college, I found myself dabbling in age-gap relationships. During the weekends, I often visited a uni friend. We drank cheap shots and danced until we stumbled off an early morning bus with our heels clutched to our hands.
But the weekdays involved me connecting with older women. As a makeup artist, I met many of them – the ambitious mid-twenty somethings who commuted to London each day to chase their dreams – the late twenty somethings who dreamed of marriage.
There was my thirty-something manager who introduced me to sexual fetishes – and by that, I mean talking about getting a pedicure to please her toe-loving date. One woman on my team was a no-nonsense 50-something whose comments were ruler sharp. If you weren’t sure whether to text a guy, she would tell you to move on and find something more useful to think about.
Splitting my time between makeup counters across London and industry makeup jobs, I got to hang out with incredibly interesting people. The older they were – often – the more unique and fascinating.
I’m not sure why, but I have a knack for getting on with people at least a decade older than me. My arrogant nineteen-year-old-self assumed I was mature and wise beyond my years. I now realise, my charming innocence probably lifted their mood. When a friend would complain about being single, I’d say – ‘There’s so much opportunity out there! We have our whole lives to meet someone amazing.’
Two of my closest friends are eight and ten years older than me. Last year, I celebrated my 30th while a few months ago, a close friend turned 40. Although the decade between us means cultural references can be difficult to share, there are countless benefits to having older friends.
They make you feel young
It’s undeniable – a secret part of me loves that I’m the youngest. Just like in Sex and the City, Carrie stops worrying about her age when Samantha points out that she’s older.
Amongst your peers, you’re usually dealing with the same issues. But your older friend has already turned 30, so they’re not running around asking how you’re going to celebrate. They’re not in despair about getting old and feeling unsuccessful. You look at them and realise that the big 3-0 isn’t the nightmare you’ve spent five years dreading.
They naturally have more experience
It’s impossible not to stereotype on such a generalised topic. Some of the older people I’ve met have had the same gossipy maturity as a teenager. But most of them have the experience and awareness to provide insightful nuggets of wisdom.
Even at 30 – an age where I feel much more settled in my skin, my forty-something friend still has age-bought confidence that a peer of mine would struggle to emulate. The older women I know have dealt with the whole marriage, pregnancy or career debate. Whenever an anxious thought occurs, they already know what to say.
They make you realise that you’re never going to have it all figured out
There is a charm in seeing an older friend struggle with some of the issues I’m dealing with. A sense that no one has it all figured out, and there’s a security within that. We typically look at our peers to measure our success. One minute you’re all single and then the next, you’re the only one unmarried in your group.
In 2019, a survey found 37% of adults have cross-generational friendships with at least a 15-year age gap.
The pressure to keep up fades when you’re mixing with different ages. I loved being young and having a variety of conversations that no one from uni would have entertained. One of the best ways to understand yourself and challenge your perspective is to reap the benefits of having an older friend.