As the youngest of six kids, I’ve adapted towards interacting with people older than me. The people I would consider my best friends (mostly brothers) are all at least three years older than me, and my oldest brother is twelve. I always made friends with my teachers in school (perhaps unconsciously following the saying of never being the smartest one in the room) and virtually everyone I spend time with, (with the exception of the improv troupe I lead) is older than me.
This extends further now that I’m in college, and while most of the students there are young, curriculum is far more loose with its enrollment and the people I interact with are on average about twenty-four. Sure, there are some people my age, fresh out of college, but most of the people I meat are at least six years older than me, and I don’t think I’ve met anyone younger than me in any of my classes, since I have a late birthday. (I graduated at seventeen.)
So with these observations I can conclude that I am pretty distinct from the average population. Yes, I considered myself different from many of my peers in high school, but college is a different atmosphere entirely. Now, everybody is openly talking about drinking, hanging out with friends, and everything related to that.
Another thing about this is that I have a strict definition of ‘friend’. To me, a ‘friend’ is somebody I would enjoy spending time with on a regular basis in a vacuum. That is to say, given capabilities and opportunities, I’d hang out with them. It may not seem strict, but I’m very selective of the people around me. So when my peers in college talk about drinking and the activities associated with it, I grow uncomfortable. It isn’t the fact that they drink that makes me uncomfortable, of course. For one, I don’t care about small talk. There is very little that anyone could possibly have to say that would make me interested in a story about them getting smashed. At the same time, since conversation is about giving and taking, they may wish me to reciprocate a story, not knowing I’m underage (though I wouldn’t drink anyway, I find alcohol unappealing).
But I think the part about it that makes me uncomfortable is that it distances me from that person. I will admit I consider myself a better person for not drinking or wanting to drink, but it’s also because I legally cannot. It makes an age gap apparent where it otherwise would have been invisible.
This is the reason why I feel more at home with my family than anyone else. The people around me have an uncanny talent for making me personally feel out of place, whether they realize it or not, but my brothers and I are pretty much all the same person, so being with them just seems more natural. I don’t have to feign interest in a drinking story because they won’t have any to tell.
So, to sum it all up, I feel pretty isolated in general. I’m used to associating myself with people older than me, yet most of the people older than me are so different from I am that I try my best to avoid any and all conversation. None of this is a bad thing, though. I do like things the way they are, and if I were to change anything, it would be myself. But that’s a story for another time.