If you have a teenager or work with them in some capacity, then you know what it’s like to receive looks that tell you everything without saying one word. The look that says “you’re not cool, so stop pretending” all while smiling at you as if they are all in on some hidden joke that you somehow missed.
If you can relate to this, then you are also familiar with the feeling you get after you realize that the butt of the joke was actually you, all along! What does this mean, you might ask? It means that they see something in you that you have missed.
They see that you are not their age and you can’t relate to their current state of affairs, so stop pretending that you can. They see that you are older. Maybe it’s time you saw this, as well.
When the tides shift, and you fail to shift with it
Millennials are truly in a world all their own, and they know it. They have social media on their side and they use it to communicate with one another, share their stories with strangers, and learn…something that older folks are still trying to grasp, believe it or not.
If you are over the age of 50, then you understand social media and the importance of it, but not enough to make it your life. Social media doesn’t replace your ability to pick up the phone and call someone if they are on your mind.
Your idea of communication involves using your mouth to speak your words, not simply typing your words out and then expressing your emotions with emojis. This is where the line is drawn. The unfortunate deal is that most of us who are over the age of 50 forget that we are no longer the cool generation. We are our parents.
Stop trying to fit in
When we find ourselves surrounded by teenagers, we can’t help but attempt to show off our ability to speak their language. We hear them say a few words and then we try to repeat those same words, only we say them in the wrong context.
To make matters worse, we aren’t really sure what teenagers are talking about when they actually talk to you, and we typically fail to understand the pain they feel on things that might seem irrelevant to us. We may not know why life is over just because a personal photo or comment didn’t receive any ‘likes’ or comments.
We may not know how it feels to be unfriended by someone or kicked out of a chat room. The harsh part is that we pretend that we do understand and rather than having real talk about the pain, we instead attempt to explain the pain as if we have felt it ourselves. They know you’re a fraud, so stop trying so hard to prove that you are someone that you’re not.
Whether you know it or not, you add value
You may not realize this, but teenagers don’t expect you to be their best friend. They may not tell you this, but they rely on the fact that you know things that they don’t. You know how to handle uncomfortable situations (thanks to your years of experience), you know how to move forward in business ventures, and you know how to heal emotional wounds…this is what they need you for and this is what they rely on.
Be the you that they see when they look at you. They don’t see a friend. Instead, they see someone who knows something they don’t. They may not be able to explain what it is that you have that they need, but you can. You have the power to see what’s missing in the chain link and you have the wherewithal to fill the missing link.
You can’t find that on social media. So feel good in the knowledge that you are uniquely qualified to be you, and what you bring to the table can’t be found anywhere online. Your heart, passion, wisdom, and compassion are what makes them understand the power of being older.
Continue to show these qualities to teenagers so that they can grow to become the next wise generation. Be the person they see when they look at you…only then can you begin to see the respect in their eyes that we sometimes desperately seek.