• Heather Fish

Spend Time With People Who Are Not Your Age

Written by Foundry CoWork Nomad Member, Taylor Hinton

In a coworking space, you have access to people varying in age, profession, goals, and personality.

I recently became a teacher. A middle school teacher, specifically. People tell me they think I’m both insane and a saint for wanting to spend time with kids of that age. I often hear “the students are so lucky to have you.” But what I really think: I’m much more lucky to have them. My students pull me out of my adult-brain and ground me in much more tangible realities. The best thing my students do for me is make me laugh in a full-bellied way that I don’t often laugh otherwise. I once played a game of “Pterodactyl”--an improve game in which you say the word “pterodactyl” without showing your teeth in an attempt to make others laugh--and found my face aching from the huge smile on my face (I clearly didn’t win). Maybe you’re thinking “you just need to get better friends,” but I’ll stop you right there and share I’m still friends with all my best friends from middle school. And when we hang out, we do laugh, a lot. But these moments come few and far between busy work schedules and anxiety-provoking conversations about jobs and money. My students also think in new and creative ways. I recently told them a story about a time I was in Mexico and got caught in a misunderstanding. When I finished the story, one of my students had figured out an explanation for the misunderstanding that made perfect sense. I was just too bogged down in the details to see it. As most healthy human relationships go, the learning between my students and I is reciprocal.  

This leads me to a larger philosophy by which I live my life: spend time with people who are not your age. Not only do I find joy in hanging out with teenagers, but I also spend a lot of time with people who are older than me. I find that is one of the benefits of living in Meadville. In a small town, it’s easy to find and meet people of many different ages with whom I connect. It’s almost as if a shared love of Meadville connects us more than being in the same era of life and the experiences that come with it. We may live in a world that encourages competitive thinking and condescension between generations, but I find much more fulfilling relationships when I acknowledge the wisdom of all generations at all points in their lives. One common story we hear is that older generations, being more experienced, have more knowledge. Another common story is that those same older generations are out of touch with the current time and refuse to learn anything new. The truth, as it always seems to, falls somewhere in the middle of all these stories. Everyone has valuable knowledge that develops from a life of valuable experiences. And all of our experiences had their own challenges. While I may have been a teen in the early 2000’s (which tells you I’m a millennial and many other things that are likely true and not all at once), the world was a different place then. Being a teenager likely felt different than being a teenager feels right now. The most obvious example of this is that I never experienced a world-shattering pandemic that shut down my school and isolated me in my own home for months. However, I did enter into a working world that lacked stable jobs and wages that could pay off my college debt. When I am older, the world will look different than it does now for people in their 50s or 60s and I will face new challenges that come with that new world. 

It might sound really daunting to let go of the idea that my experiences make up some kind of ultimate truth about the world, but I find comfort in the idea that the world is constantly shifting. It means that connecting with others will help me better understand what it means to be a human. And what makes us human most, if not connecting with others? I find a lot of comfort in coworking spaces for this reason. I see people at work in a career they’ve just entered and careers that have developed over a life-time. I see people who can do their work remotely, something that may not have been possible twenty years ago. Possibilities are constantly shifting and I like seeing how that shapes our world. It means we are never stuck in the world we’re in now, for better or for worse.

Maybe we’ll find another world is possible.

Taylor is an educator in the Meadville community and enjoys teaching most in gardens and science classrooms. She has been a Meadvillian for almost ten years now, first as an Allegheny student and now as a tax-paying, parade-going citizen. When she isn’t teaching, she loves hiking with her dog, Misha, and skipping rocks in French Creek. Taylor is a part of Foundry Cowork as a nomad member. She enjoys using the Foundry space to work on lesson plans, develop community programs, drink delicious tea, and be in the presence of beautiful art work.

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