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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Body Age, 35. Soul Age, 99.

Have you ever heard of the phrase "old soul"?  It's a term that someone might use to describe a person who either acts as though they are older than they actually are, or it's a term that is used to describe someone whose morals and values might seem more mature than the average person.

It's a term that I have heard many times.  And the reason is because I feel as though I have an old soul. 

Growing up in small town Ontario, I always had great difficulty relating to people my own age.  I tried to be friendly with them, and sometimes they would respond back in kind, but when it comes down to it, I always found myself on the outside looking in.  It wasn't really anything that I feel that I did, it's just that I couldn't relate to them as much as I could adults.

I suppose part of the reason for my thinking could have been due to the fact that I wasn't really exposed to many children when I was younger.  In the first five years of my life, I think my family moved to four different neighbourhoods, so I never really had a chance to really get to know people as we were constantly moving.  And by the time my family finally settled on the street that I called home for fourteen years, there were no kids my age on the street at all.  It was 85% elderly residents.

I mean, don't get me wrong.  Many of those elderly people were nice people, and many of them gave me extra treats on Halloween whenever I went trick-or-treating as for many years I was the only child on the street.  But it made for a rather lonely childhood at times.

It wasn't until I started elementary school that I finally got the chance to interact with people my own age.  Unfortunately, the majority of the kids in my class already had a major head start in social skills than I had.  Many of them came from neighbourhoods with lots of children, or they were in daycare programs that allowed them access to other kids their age.  I never really had that experience, and I think it ended up being detrimental to trying to get along with people my own age.

Even at 35, I can probably count all the friends who were born the same year I was on both hands.  I just find it difficult to initiate conversation with people near my age because I feel as though I have nothing to offer in terms of conversation.  And that's nobody's fault.  It's just the way that I feel and my own individual experiences.

When I was a kid, it seemed to me that most of my friends back in those days were fully-grown adults.  I found that I could have better conversations with adult figures than I could with people my own age.  The guy who used to deliver bread to the convenience store was my friend.  The bank teller at the Bank of Montreal was my friend.  Any random person on the street that was older than me, I considered a friend.  Of course, I should reiterate that I just didn't go around the streets of my hometown talking to random strangers.  My parents would have never allowed that.

Thing is, I don't know why I found it easier to talk to adults than I did talking with people my own age.  Maybe it was because I saw adults as being protective figures, and that by talking to them that they wouldn't be mean to me.  And 99% of the time, that was my experience with them.  We won't discuss the mean neighbours across the street from the house I grew up in.

But ultimately, I think it all came down to what I was exposed to as a child.  And as it so happened, most of my childhood experiences were around adult figures.

Even having siblings that were much older than I was sort of explained my gravitation towards adults instead of kids my age.  Because their friends were much older than I was, I was exposed to older people moreso than I was people of my own age group.  And even when I was in situations where there were kids my own age, I still felt more comfortable hanging around the adults.  That was just how I felt, and in many ways that's how I still feel.

Now, do I wish that things were different?  In one way, I do.  I hated being the kid that never fit in with the other kids at school, and I longed to have people accept me for who I was no matter what my age was.  But in many ways, I was a 50-year-old soul in a 10-year-old body, and I suppose it would be difficult for the average 10-year-old to find anything in common with a child who felt more open with adults.  Again, that's not anyone's fault.  That was just the way it was.

On that same token, I'm glad that I can relate well with adults because it taught me that somewhere underneath my goofy exterior was a responsible and mature person who somehow could interact with adults and not feel pressured to get off their lawn.  And as I've come to realize just based on the experiences I've had with my own peers, not everyone born the same year as me end up becoming all that mature.

Still...sometimes having an old soul can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing.  It all depends on how you see it.

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