How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?– Satchel Paige
There is a special kind of person in our world who finds herself alone and isolated, almost since birth.
Her solitary existence isn’t from a preference or an antisocial temperament – she is simply old. Old in heart, old in mind, and old in soul, this person is an old soul who finds her outlook on life vastly different and more matured than those around her. As a result, the old soul lives her life internally, walking her own solitary path while the rest around her flock to follow another.
Perhaps you’ve experienced this in your own life, or have witnessed it in another person? If so, this article is dedicated to you, in hopes that you will come to define yourself or understand another better.
Table of contents
What is an Old Soul?
Quite simply, an Old Soul is a person who feels much older than their age reflects. This feeling is often accompanied by the gift of empathy, high intelligence, intuition, and keen insight into the human condition.
Old Souls are often outsiders looking in, they feel as though they don’t “belong” in this world, or this period of time. As a result, most Old Souls long for a sense of true meaning, purpose and inner fulfillment that money, power, and success can’t achieve. This longing is often described as the thirst to “return back home.”
There are two major types of Old Souls: those that are born with the sensation of being “different,” and those who “grow into” becoming Old Souls through the process of spiritual awakening. We’ll explore Old Souls and spiritual awakening more a little later.
17 Signs You’re An Old Soul
If you have not yet discovered whether you’re an Old Soul, read some of the revealing signs below:
1# You tend to be a lone wolf
Because Old Souls are disinterested in the pursuits and interests of the people in their age groups, they find it dissatisfying to make friends with people they find hard to relate to. This sense of alienation is one of the major problems Old Souls experience. The result is that Old Souls tend to find themselves alone a lot of the time. They struggle to connect deeply with others because most other people don’t have the same interests or values as them.
2# You love knowledge, wisdom, and truth
This might seem a little highbrow, but the Old Soul finds herself naturally gravitating towards the intellectual side of life. Old Souls inherently understand that knowledge is power, wisdom is happiness, and truth is freedom, so why not seek after those things? These pursuits are more meaningful to them than reading up on the latest gossip about the Kardashians or the latest football scores.
3# You’re spiritually inclined
Old Souls tend to have sensitive and spiritual natures. Experiencing a spiritual awakening, overcoming the confines of the ego, seeking spiritual enlightenment and self-realization, and fostering love and peace are often at the core of the Old Soul’s ultimate quest in life.
4# You understand the transience of life
Old Souls are frequently plagued with reminders of their own mortality and that of everything and everyone around them. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the old soul to have multiple existential crises throughout life, especially during difficult situations that highlight the impermanence of existence. Being very perceptive and sensitive toward the reality of death, old souls choose to live their lives differently. Every decision counts.
5# You’re thoughtful and introspective
Old Souls tend to think a lot … about everything. It’s crucial for an old soul to get enough space and time to reflect, introspect, and develop more self-awareness. This natural tendency toward rumination helps them to quickly learn from their actions and understand the people and environments around them. Many Old Souls practice a natural form of shadow work in which they are constantly reflecting on how they could do better, prevent their issues from getting bigger, and create more inner harmony.
6# You see the bigger picture
Old Souls dislike getting lost in the superficial details of gaining useless degrees, job promotions, social prestige, and better iPhones. Instead, Old Souls prefer to look at life from a birds-eye perspective, striving to find the wisest and most meaningful way of living and using their time. After all, life can end at any moment, so why waste time on trivial details?
7# You aren’t materialistic
Wealth, status, fame, and the latest tech gadget … Old Souls take little interest in these things. After all, what’s the point of seeking these socially paraded goals if they can easily be taken away? What’s the point if the fulfillment isn’t long-lasting or soul-enriching?
8# You were a strange, socially maladaptive kid
This is not always the case, but many Old Souls exhibit odd signs of maturity at young ages. Often, these children are labeled as being “precocious,” “introverted,” or “rebellious,” failing to fit into the mainstream behaviors. Usually, these children are extremely inquisitive and intelligent, seeing the purposelessness of many things their teachers, parents, and peers say and do, and either passively or aggressively resist them. If you can talk to your child like s/he’s an adult – you’ve probably got an Old Soul on your hands.
9# You’ve undergone an existential crisis
It’s common for Old Souls to ask deep and penetrating questions about life in their search for love, truth, and freedom. This quest to live a meaningful existence inevitably means that they will, sooner or later, experience an existential crisis. An existential crisis is what happens when a person starts to see through the lies and delusions within society. They may wonder what life is really about, whether they have a true purpose, and start to think about the human condition more. Is life just a product of chance? What’s the point of everything I’ve done? What is all this about, anyway? These are the types of questions Old Souls ask during the existential crisis.
10# You see life through a poetic/contemplative lens
Old Souls take time to enjoy life – they see things that others don’t see. Take nature for example: an Old Soul will enjoy the way the wind dances through the trees – while someone else may just walk straight by, disinterested or blind to the simple beauty before them. Old Souls also take time to contemplate life. The smile and laughter of a child is something to stop and savor. The striking beauty of a piece of art is something to ponder. The words of a great writer are something to meditate on (see Lectio Divina). There is so much in life to stop, appreciate, and reflect on.
11# You tend to overthink everything
While Old Souls are contemplative types of people, this can also prove to be a painful and challenging quality. For instance, most Old Souls struggle with the curse of overthinking practically everything. Choosing from a menu at a cafe, for example, can be a strangely painstaking experience. (There are so many options! Which is the right one? What would taste the best? What is the most ethical? What is the best value for money? What is right for this time of the day? etc.) Social situations are no better, which leads to the next point …
12# You struggle with anxiety in social situations
Put the tendency to overthink everything alongside conscientiousness and strong empathy, and you have a recipe for social anxiety. Throw in a little bit of eccentricity (i.e., not sharing the same interests as most people) and we have an unavoidable tendency towards lingering social discomfort. Although many Old Souls are confident, calm, and self-possessed people, social situations are complex and tiring. There are so many elements to consider (fragile egos, etiquette, boundaries, reciprocity, unspoken but obvious insecurities, etc.) that they often prefer just being left by themselves. With that being said, when Old Souls do find someone they connect with or find interesting, they tend to form strong and intense connections quite quickly. It’s one of the greatest joys of life to find fellow kindred spirits.
13# You easily fall into the role of advisor or counselor
People flock to Old Souls for advice like a moth drawn to a flame. Attracted to their level-headedness and wisdom, it’s common for family members, friends, and workplaces to naturally position the Old Soul as advice-giver. While most Old Souls don’t mind this, it’s common for them to feel inundated and overwhelmed by the magnitude of other’s problems. Even so, Old Souls enjoy helping others. It’s more of a pleasure (than a burden) to give guidance to those in need.
14# You enjoy the company of those much older than you
Old Souls tend to make friends with older folks way more often than younger people (including those of the same age). There is something so down-to-earth, engaging, and layered about those who have been around much longer than the rest. Besides, it’s comforting being around those whose external energy matches the Old Soul’s internal energy. There’s something compatible there. No need to go running around like a headless chicken to parties, concerts, and what have you. Instead, Old Souls can enjoy sitting around a fire or lounging on the patio chairs, having a good old-fashion talk and exchanging stories.
15# You crave simplicity
In some areas of life, Old Souls respect and even like complexity. But overall, what most Old Souls crave deep down is simplicity. There is a certain purity, beauty, and Zen-like appeal in the simple life. Some Old Souls may find themselves drawn toward minimalism, while others may take a minimalistic attitude toward everyday responsibilities and other pursuits. The Old Soul’s thirst for simplicity is very much connected to their love of heart, soul, and essence. Whatever is true and worthy can easily be found in simplicity.
16# You’re attracted to all things vintage
While this might not be the case for all Old Souls, many find themselves drawn toward old music, old furniture, old architecture, old books, old clothing – really, anything old. Some Old Souls feel more at home in bygone eras (18th-century horse and carriage, 1920’s jazz, etc.), while others have an appreciation for even older cultures (e.g., shamanic and tribal periods).
17# You just “feel” old inside
Throw away the ‘Old Soul’ label for a moment and focus on how you feel inside. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? Those who realize that they feel much older than their age reflects are often Old Souls at heart.
Common feelings that accompany being an Old Soul usually include a feeling of world wariness, mental tiredness, inquisitiveness, watchful patience, and the sensation of being an “outsider looking in.”
More In-Depth Help
Want to learn more about being an Old Soul? In my book Old Souls: The Sages and Mystics of Our World, I give more in-depth guidance:
Have You Experienced Spiritual Awakening as an Old Soul?
Almost every Old Soul, to some extent, has undergone a process of spiritual awakening.
Spiritual awakenings are periods in our lives when we feel lost, confused, and alienated from others and society’s rules, expectations, beliefs, and values.
The spiritual awakening process is a painful and often traumatic experience involving the complete disintegration of our former habits, perceptions, and even life goals. Often, the result of such an experience is fear, confusion, depression, anxiety, and social alienation for years on end. However, despite such devastation, the spiritual awakening process is ultimately a liberating experience after we have gone through the fires of rebirth.
You might be wondering what triggers the spiritual awakening process …
Well, usually the spiritual awakening process arises in a person’s life during major life events such as marriage, divorce, child-bearing, death, illness, and tragedy. However, spiritual awakenings can also be completely spontaneous, arising as a natural result of life experience – or in the Old Soul’s case, soulful maturity.
The inevitable product of going through a spiritual awakening process is soulfully maturing. The more we come to see through the illusions and deceptions of society, the more we direct our search for true happiness and fulfillment within ourselves. The deeper we search, the closer we connect with our Souls, which are the ultimate sources of our joy and peace.
Old Souls are people who are conscious of the Soul’s existence and actively work to reconnect with it again. In this sense, the term “Old Soul” is metaphorical rather than literal, indicating a matured and ripened relationship with the Soul or True Self. A Young Soul, on the other hand, is a person who hasn’t yet experienced a deep connection with their Souls, or Higher Selves. They remain like a young flower bud: tight and closed.
However, it’s important to realize that not every Old Soul has a working connection with the Soul. After undergoing a process of spiritual awakening, it is common to become so absorbed in the suffering of the world and other personal issues, that a connection to the Soul is “lost.” While the Old Soul may be aware of a profoundly divine presence within them and existence, they are not able to sustain a connection with it. This experience is known as The Dark Night of the Soul.
Old Souls and Inner work
Instinctually, Old Souls know that life is one great spiritual journey towards inner Wholeness. As a result, most Old Souls spend their lives seeking that which will bring them true self-fulfillment or self-actualization.
The most vital practice to incorporate into your life as an Old Soul, and indeed as any person, is inner work.
Inner work is the practice of working to reconnect with your Soul – it is not limited to any particular religious or spiritual doctrine but embraces all paths.
Essentially, any practice which helps you to become conscious of the eternal and unchanging presence within you that is your Soul is helpful. We have dedicated this website to helping you explore various techniques and sacred inner work practices out there that aid soulful maturing. You can read more about Inner work here.
Once an Old Soul has learned how to reconnect with and embody the Soul, they enter a new level of spiritual advancement. We refer to this level as the Illuminated Soul stage.
Illuminated Souls are awakened beings who have been freed from the dualistic mind that is at the root of all suffering (read more about the mind and ego for more understanding). Common Illuminated Souls that we know of include figures such as the Buddha, Basho, Krishnamurti, Meher Baba, Mahavira, Gangaji, Eckhart Tolle, Mooji, Unmani, and many others.
You can read more about Illuminated Souls in my Old Souls book.
Old Soul FAQ
Here are some common questions people ask about Old Souls:
There are many approaches to discovering the age of your soul – it all depends on your personal beliefs and preferences. One way to discover the age of your soul is through a deep guided visualization where you seek out your core essence. You could use imagery such as ascending to the heavens, descending into a deep tunnel and finding ‘the light,’ or moving through a labyrinth toward the center where your Soul resides. Other methods include mirror work, soul gazing (with another person), dream work, meditation, and using plant medicines. However, the question must be asked, why do you want to discover your soul’s age? How will it ultimately help you? And how can you know for sure that you’ve found the right answer? These are important questions to explore as they will help you to use your time and energy wisely.
Old Souls are relatively rare and compose a small percentage of the world’s population. Some speculate that Old Souls compose around 10% of the world’s population. However, this number is not exact or proven. Regardless of that fact, Old Souls are not common in today’s society.
An Old Soul is a person who feels much older than their age reflects. This feeling is often accompanied by the gift of empathy, high intelligence, intuition, and keen insight into the human condition.
Pay attention to the following signs:
1. You have a preference for solitude
2. You’re sensitive and empathic
3. You have a profound understanding of human nature
4. You have the ability to deeply introspect
5. You tend to experience a lot of psychological tiredness
6. You’re disinterested in worldly achievements or status
7. You have an inclination towards spirituality
8. You have a mystical approach to life
9. You thirst for truth and wisdom
What makes one person wise beyond their years, and another, young at heart?
What makes one person awaken to the desire for spiritual fulfillment and self-love, and another person to the desire to content themselves with material gain and social status? The answer is the age (or level of development) of their Soul.
If you’re an Old Soul, you will likely feel alienated in society, but you’ll also be able to live a truly unique and meaningful life. There are blessings and curses that accompany this way of being, but most of all, I hope you know that you’re not alone and there are others like you.
Are you an old soul? I’d love to hear your stories below.
We also have an Old Soul Test which you might wish to take.