From the time you could understand human speech, you overheard adults describing you as an old soul. Sometimes, this was a compliment, meaning that you were mature for your age, and grasped concepts that should have been years out of reach. But sometimes, it was an explanation for why you were driving the genuine old folks crazy.
“I feel like the Beach Boys ‘I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times’ is an anthem,” says comedian Sue Funke. “It’s like I’ve always been a little more life-wise than everyone due to my older parents and siblings.”
Adults may have found you unsettling, but kids were certain you were a weirdo—and they probably let you know about it. Kids are cliquish, even more than adults. If you often felt a little ahead of your peer group in some ways and a little behind in others, this will sound familiar.
The good news is that feeling like an outsider isn’t necessarily a lifelong affliction. For one thing, by the time you’re an adult, you’re usually more comfortable being who you are.
Old souls know that there’s always more than one way to look at something, and they can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. That doesn’t mean you always agree with the person you’re talking to—but you do find it easy to understand their perspective. This ability to see both sides of an issue makes old souls fair-minded—rather than just going with their gut, they make decisions based on carefully accumulated facts and opinion. The downside? Old souls often appear uncommitted to their own point of view.
You’re OK spending time alone.
Old souls come in every personality type, from wildly extroverted to deeply introverted and shy. But one thing they all have in common is that they’re good company for themselves, even if they also enjoy the company of others. “I almost always prefer time to myself than packing my calendar with social events,” says Rachel D., a project manager at a digital agency. “Some of my favorite activities are going for a stroll, people watching, going to a concert/coffee/meal alone.”