Most of my social media feed these days is filled with advice on everything from dating rules and setting boundaries to which lip oil you should buy. There's something to be said for finding relatability with other 20-somethings navigating life alongside you, but I tend to be cautious about the advice I consume on social media.

Comparison is the thief of joy, and although I try my best not to, it's only natural to compare your journey to others' when thousands of videos are showcasing their lives. This leads you to question your daily decisions based on what others choose to share.

Recently, however, an emerging trend on TikTok where women in their twenties are asking women in their fifties for life advice caught my attention. These women sit down to film the modern-day ritual "Get Ready With Me" video, sharing their mistakes, experiences, and life lessons with us. Podcast host and motivational speaker Mel Robbins even participated, sharing advice she would give her twenty-year-old self.

A TikTok trend sparking intergenerational dialogue 

Growing up, there seemed to be a window of time when having lofty visions for yourself was purely exciting. The "how" seemed far away enough that you had time to believe it could all work itself out. However, somewhere along the line, whether it was graduating, experiencing relationship heartbreaks, or just realizing how fast time moves, the pressure to figure out the "how" has overshadowed the joy that comes along with dreaming.

As I watch these women apply the same liquid blush I use every morning, I learn that everything does work itself out, but not because they figured it out during their windows of time. The plans we set for ourselves almost always shift because our needs, interests, and desires evolve over time. Hearing older women share their experiences from their twenties is reassuring because they recount their mistakes, lessons, and feelings with grace. There’s no judgment to their decisions and it makes it easier for me to not judge myself either. There is a sense of comfort I get knowing adapting to your own evolution gets easier. 

So where do we meet friends from different age groups? 

TikTok is great for opening the discussion, but how do you make friends outside your age group in real life? The most convenient place where people of all ages gather is the workplace. While I'm not suggesting you need to become best friends with your co-workers, there is an opportunity to spark intergenerational friendships through intentional mentorship. Mentorship is often underestimated because we tend to think of it solely in terms of career networking. However, when my friends and I meet with mentors, our first thoughts are often, "Wow, they are so cool, I want to be friends with them."

For the longest time, I was always confused about how to optimize 30-minute calls with people I looked up to. What value could I possibly bring to them? I gradually realized we had so much in common, and my value wasn't going to be based on achievements. The most meaningful value I brought came from genuine conversations sharing my insights and mindset toward shared interests. If we limit opportunities to meet women of all ages solely for career purposes, we diminish the chances for authentic, open-hearted dialogues that can improve our daily confidence and well-being.

Intergenerational friendships are healing

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When I was diagnosed with cancer at 18, I turned to social media to find a community through sharing my story. I hoped to find other young cancer patients or survivors who could understand what I was going through. Surprisingly, I found older women telling me how much my posts helped them process their emotions about cancer and their relationship with their bodies. I gained so many friends, often twice my age, because of a shared health struggle. Despite being in different life stages, we were processing the same emotions at the same time. Every day before treatment, they would wish me good luck, and this tradition has continued beyond my cancer journey. Our check-ins are filled with debriefs, gossip, and soulful revelations.

The universal connection between women of any age was illuminated in 2023, remarkably dubbed the "year of the girl." Propelled by events like the Barbie Movie or Taylor Swift's Era Tour, we saw women of all ages embrace girlhood, with no implications of age attached. As much as there is to learn from women with more life experience, it's also a great reminder that there is no age cap on what we have conceptualized as "girlhood": the ability to be carefree and creative while also feeling lost and making mistakes. Whether women have had the opportunity to experience these feelings wholeheartedly is another question, but there is no doubt we all deserve to, regardless of age. Beyond the learnings and wisdom to be shared with intergenerational friendships, there are genuine bonds to be made over sharing these feelings.

I know Women's History Month is about celebrating trailblazers who have created societal opportunities for women but sometimes the most important stories we need to hear this month are not ones of greatness, but stories of lostness, lessons to be learned, and open vulnerability between women.

Kavita Rai is a cancer survivor focused on advancing health equity and solving public health challenges through various avenues: tech-enabled healthcare, policy & law, and patient-led solutions. She currently leads Operations at the early-stage digital health company Ethos Health.