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Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Generation Gap Within My Own Generation...

Have you heard of a thing as a generation gap? 

It's the term that we all use to describe people who are older than us or younger than us who simply don't see things the way that we do because they lived through a different time.  I guess a perfect example to describe this would be the younger generation's obsession with technology, and how the older generation doesn't quite understand it because they made it through life just fine without it.

I'm sure most of us can relate to the clash of a generation in various ways.  Whether it's cursing a younger generation for being lazy, or cursing an older generation for being stodgy, I think we've either been the person criticizing a generation, or we've found ourselves being the target of a person criticizing a generation.

But, I've always been a little bit different in that regard.  I suppose mainly because I've always found that I can make friends easier with people who are at least ten or more years older than I am, or I can make friends easier with people who are ten or more years younger than I am.

But when it comes to people who are my own age?  Forget it.

Now, before I go on with my thoughts about this, I do want to make one statement.  It isn't as though I don't have pals who are around the age of 35.  Truth is, the ones that I do have are incredibly special to me, and I do appreciate every single one of them for being the good people they are.

But, it hasn't always been easy for me to gel with the people who are the closest to me in age.  In fact, in some cases it's been nearly impossible.  I can recall many recesses where I would stand around and talk to the yard duty teacher because I didn't have anyone else to talk to.  They were all doing their own thing, and I was a little bit too scared to approach them.  Even as far back as when I was in the first grade, I always hung around sixth grade kids.  Partly because I knew they could beat up the mean kids...but partly because I felt as though I had more in common with them than I did the kids in my own peer group.

Heck, a part of me wishes that I could have skipped ahead four grades like they did with Junior in the movie "Problem Child 2".  It never happened...though I was reading at a ninth grade level in elementary school.  I guess we'll never know whether I could have made it having skipped through all those grades.  But that's beside the point.

When I was kid, I struggled to befriend kids in my own age group.  As a teenager, I struggled even more.  By the time I was in my late twenties, I started really not to care about that as much.  But at the same time, seeing most of my peers in my age group settling down before I did...I don't think I would consider it to be feelings of jealousy...more along the lines of, I wish I could just fit in and do things exactly the way that they did so I didn't feel like I was a freak of nature within my own birth year.

But why do I feel this way?

Well, I think a huge factor behind this comes from the fact that I was born during the time that I was.  And I don't mean the early 1980s...I mean the actual time.

You see...I was born during a weird time within my family.  Every single family has a cluster of generations.  Like, for instance, my grandparents were mostly born during the 1920s.  Then, my parents were born during the 1940s.  But from here, this is where things get complicated.

I have two siblings.  One was born in the 1960s, and the other was born in the 1970s.  I didn't come around until the 1980s.  I suppose my family went by the one child per decade rule.  And because they were older than me, they had both moved out by the time I was eleven.  So, having no siblings close to me in age was a detriment in how to handle people my own age.

Now, to complicate things even further, my grandparents on my mom's side also had wide age gaps in their family.  My mother's younger siblings are way younger than she was, and as a result, they were right around the same age as my siblings.  On my dad's side, all of my uncles and aunts had children between the late 1950s and late 1960s, so they were all relatively close in age.  But my mom's siblings all waited to have kids until the late 1980s and early 1990s.  And by that time, my siblings were starting families of their own.

What this meant was that we had a cluster of family members born between 1960 and 1975.  We had another cluster of family members born between 1986 and 2001.

And in between was me.  Only me.  I am the ONLY ONE in my whole family that was born during the early 1980s.  No cousins were even remotely close to me in age.  And, I have to tell you, in some cases this really sucked.  I never really had anyone my age that I could relate to.  Even when I was growing up, I always lived in neighbourhoods that never had a whole lot of kids in it.  It was mostly senior citizens, or young families who had newborns.  Again, nobody relatively close to my age to hang around with.

I think that's part of the reason why starting school was sort of a traumatic experience at first.  Here were all of these kids who were my age, and I didn't know how to behave around any of them because this was more or less the first time I got to spend with them for at least six hours a day.  It was a frustrating experience, and hard for me to cope with.  I don't think I even made my first friend there until at least October or November.  That's how hard it was.

I sometimes wonder if things would have been different had I been surrounded with people my own age from the beginning.  If I had just lived in a kid-friendly neighbourhood, or if I had been enrolled in a daycare program (something I never did as my mother was a stay-at-home mom), or if I had family members who were my age.  Perhaps I wouldn't find it so hard to connect with people who are my age.

But, I suppose having pals who are older than I am or pals who are younger than I am has its own set of advantages.  I guess looking at it that way, I'm not a complete social reject.  But still...I guess it's just one of those things that happened...and I can't change it.

I just know that if I become a parent...if I have more than one child, I won't have them ten years apart! 

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