G is for the generation of teachers that came before me. They have been more than just mentors and coworkers. Most importantly, they have taught me:
Why Every 20-something Needs Friends That Are 40-something
I didn’t realize that I had magically warped into an adult until I had my first grown up job and was given an equivalent job description to somebody who could’ve been my own first grade teacher. All of the sudden, the playing field was even and I was considered a peer to the people who very well could have raised, taught, and babysat me.
I didn’t know how to handle this new dynamic. Should I be perpetually intimidated? Do I try to act just as experienced as them? What do I do with my hands?
Yet, the beauty of a 40-something friend is that they don’t freaking care. They don’t care what I do with my hands or what I think of them or if anybody hates them. They are unashamedly themselves and want me to be the same. They aren’t competing or comparing or keeping up.
I admire that. Because, in many ways, that is the exact opposite of who I am. I care, way too much. I care about what people think about me, and how many people hate me, and how I’m stacking up to everyone else around me.
The ease at which they live their lives shows me what is possible. It is possible to not keep track of what everyone thinks of me. It is possible to not care that somebody is mad, and it’s possible to not take everything so dang seriously. It’s also possible to not take myself so dang seriously.
The decades of life experience that they have has shown me more of who I am, who I can be, and who I will be. These friends and mentors have seen me at my best and my worst. They’ve seen me acting like a capable adult, and also a blithering, crying millennial who just can’t even. They take it all in stride and help me recognize that some days are hard, and that’s just how life goes.
There seems to be comfort in being 40-something. I’m not saying their lives aren’t chaotic, they are. With their adolescent kids causing raucous through their homes and school hallways, they have their fair share of stress. But, I am saying that as far as it comes to being oneself, owning one’s inner strength, and knowing who you are and what you want – they seem to have found comfort in finding that for themselves. And, in each day, I am finding that for myself, too.
What has shocked me the most is the blessing of the friendship that the decades of life that these coworkers possess have afforded me. Even though I still feel like just a kid to them, never once have they treated me like one. If anything, these people have challenged me to see more in myself and value myself way more than I do. I am forever grateful for the years spent learning alongside them, both as coworkers, and as human beings.
I’ll tuck these life lessons that I gained from them deeply in my heart. Not because they decided that they needed to impart life lessons upon me, but because I simply gained these lessons by watching them.
They may see me as the young, cool, and hip teacher… But, really, I hope that one day I’ll grow up to be as cool as them. Thank you, J & J, for being the first to be these people to me…even for just a short time.