At school, I had mates from all different groups. From the sporty girls to the ultra-girly girls, they all made my time at school – and let’s face, it double maths – a lot more bearable.
But the best one (and the one I still remember all these years later) was the older friend who was just so impossibly cool.
Y’know the one, every school had one. The one that everyone looked up to as if she was made out of rainbow glitter. The one who was so achingly cool it seemed like she was NEVER your age, never wore braces and never went through that awkward phase. And who probably, DEFINITELY, never got rejected by their crush. The one who seemed to drift through life, knowing everything and everyone.
And even though I had friends in many different groups, it was this older friend that helped me wade through the murky territory that is love, school and periods. Case in point: starting my period at thirteen and worrying I had leaked through my white jeans, my older friend helped calm me down and realise that no one was staring or tittering at me behind my back.
And learning from her past mistakes was definitely a bonus. Sure, she had sneaky tips on how to get the best classroom seats and new textbooks – avoiding the textbook with egg and mayo stains is better than getting an A, as far as we were concerned. Oh, and passing on where the best seats were to position yourself perfectly in French class – FYI, near the windows for fresh air, close enough to hear if you were randomly called on yet far enough to have a gossip with your mates.
But she also had a lot to pass on when it came to *real life* mistakes. Heartbreak is bound to happen sooner or later, but she told me whether the crush I liked was worth doodling all over my notebooks for. And if I was stuck picking what classes to do for GCSEs, she had lots of tips because she’d already been there.
And it’s SO much better coming from an older best friend than your parents or a friend your own age who, although may be well-intentioned, you’d rather hear it from someone who had just recently been through it.
It led me to so many wonderful experiences: her recommendation to join clubs outside of school made me realise that I wanted to be a journalist after joining a youth group.
I also learnt some lessons on listening along the way: that sometimes in my pursuit to impress my older friend, I would end up wearing different clothes, speaking differently and generally looking down on my same-aged friends. And that wasn’t cool because I nearly lost them.
Yes, it’s exciting to have older friends but that shouldn’t come at the expense of your other friends – don’t totally ditch your same-aged friends to hang out with the elders just because they all have nose rings and tattoos.
Above anything, having an older friend taught me a lot about accepting myself. When I was younger, it felt like I had to wait FOREVER to hit the grand old ages of 16 and 18. But forget celebrities, having an older friend can be like the best role model to look up to and be an example of what ‘future you’ can be like. Having someone older who exuded confidence and sophistication gave me hope that one day, I would be that girl too. And it was true – years later, I did become that person.
So, if you’ve spotted someone you have a life crush on, don’t assume they’re simply too busy to make time for you. It can be scary to try and strike up a friendship with someone who seems like they have their lives together, but they may appreciate having someone else they can pass their wisdom on to.
Image: Gossip Girl
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