I am a proud, card-carrying member of Generation X. Oh, and before anybody asks, good genes and moisturizer account for my fresh, youth dew appearance (wink).
So by definition, this means that I have no idea who the GI Generation is. I think they’re some type of distant fossilized ancestor or something. I ignore the Silent Generation because…well …they’re silent. I am resentful of the Baby Boomers. Because of them, I will never get to retire off of Social Security. I am irritated by the Millennials because they are all entitled, spoiled brats. And Gen Z…ummm…I mean who are these people? What is their purpose and why do we even need them? And the real question is, how did Generation Z even get here? Hmmm…makes you think, huh? And if we don’t need Gen Z, then we certainly will not need Generation AA…or whatever we will get to next.
So, in conclusion, Generation X is perfect, and everyone should aspire to be like us. The End.
But in this false reality, Gen X is not young enough to be optimistic, but not old enough to be pessimistic. We are the forgotten sandwich generation middle child, trying to coexist, make everyone happy, and mind our own business all at the same time. I mean basically, everyone else gets a legitimate name to their generation, while we get a generic letter. Hard eye roll. At least Gen Z gets the cool last letter of the alphabet. I’m just saying.
It’s funny because sometimes I do feel like the “good, quiet child” hiding the closet, covering my ears while my ultra-conservative parents fight with my wayward younger siblings. When will it all end?
However, one could argue that these generational wars are entirely fabricated by someone, some entity, somewhere. I am not even convinced that this is not just an American-born phenomenon, created to produce a new gig economy. It’s starting fires where there are none…kinda like a combative Hallmark holiday. I’m still waiting on my “Happy Generation X Day! You’re Old” card to come in the mail (or my DMs) signed by all my friendly Millennial and Gen Z associates.
Stereotypes of each generation are cyclical. “They” say that the Millennials are rudderless and don’t want to put in any real work to achieve their goals. My Gen X peeps – does this sound familiar? When I was in my early 20s, I remember reading an article on my generation clearly written by a more senior member of the generation continuum. Since I am so old, I can’t even begin to find and link it. It asserted that we are called Generation X because ‘X’ in mathematics symbolizes the unknown. We had no direction, no goals. We were basically like bumper cars – driving around aimlessly until we hit a brick wall called “real adulthood”. Ouch. I guess I hit that brick wall when I read that article.
After I put ice on my proverbial black eye from being metaphorically punched in the face from the aforementioned article, I got angry. First of all, I don’t even know everyone in my age group, nor should I be lumped together with a whole bunch of unrelated people I’ve never met. I’m me. Secondly, how dare anyone call me directionless with no purpose or passion. They don’t know me. I will show them and anyone else who deigns to characterize me in this manner who I am and what I am about. Watch and take notes. And that’s exactly what I and many of my other cohorts did. I would like to think that most of us were and still are productive members of our society, honoring tradition while forging new ground. And I am confident that we will continue to make our mark for the rest of our lives. I guess there is a benefit to being in the middle after all.
Still not convinced that broad-based stereotypes of a group of people born around the same time are fabricated? Let’s get down to brass tacks. A generation typically spans 20 years, give or take. Realistically, a 20 year-old does not have much in common with a newborn. A 25 year-old will probably have a different mindset than a 45 year-old. Heck, a parent and child may even be in the same generation. You cannot tell me that their outlook and motivation would not be different.
I would venture to say that we all have representation from at least most generations in our own families. If we fight on the national stage, I am afraid of what it says about how we treat our own families. But why when you can learn just as much from a 5 year-old as you can from a 95 year-old? Nevertheless, I will be the first to admit that some of these Millennials do have an air of entitlement. It does make you wonder who these people’s parents are who allowed this type of behavior when they were growing up. Another one of those questions that make you wonder.
I mean, real talk, do we really want everything to stay the same as, or revert to the good old days (or the bad old days depending on your perspective) like before smartphones and text messages? …which I personally cannot get enough of. At the same, if we do not respect and honor the wisdom and trailblazing of all those who came before us, we cannot expect the same when, prayerfully, we reach our prime years ourselves. We need each other.
Yet and still, I do concede that there are challenges and opportunities unique to each generational cohort. Millennials may experience more crushing debt than past generations. But, necessity is the mother of invention. They are clever enough to create a solution to their problem in a way none of us will expect. The GI Generation, Silent Generation, and Baby Boomers may not have the loudest voices in this technological, social media world. Nonetheless, they are still starting and running businesses while serving as the backbone of our families. They will sleep when they are dead. Gen Z will create a whole new world. And Gen X, well, we have found with confidence that we are not trying to be all things to all people. We own our voice, yet we are humble enough to know that we are still learning and are grateful for growth.
Yes, I am a so-called Gen Xer. Still, I feel courageous like the GI generation, observant and reflective like the Silent Generation, resilient like the Baby Boomers, set my own rules like the Millennials with the optimism of Gen Z. In these generational wars, I am supposed to pick a side – my side. I am not supposed to feel connected to each generation, yet respect differences within my own. And, I absolutely cannot love Stevie Wonder and Cardi B.
I am not trying to be younger. I am not trying to be older. I am just being. On second thought, maybe this Gen Xer is just playing her position as the diplomatic ambassador middle child, bringing everyone together. If so, I’ll accept that stereotype.
© 2019 Kelli Wingo All rights reserved.