There’s a lot of smack talk out there about our young Millennial friends, and I admit that I’ve occasionally played along. What kind of Gen Xer would I be if I didn’t?!
Warning: Sarcasm ahead.
A friend of mine likes to call Millennials “special snowflakes,” referring to their inexplicable need to be appreciated as extraordinary and unique, each and every one. Maybe there is a grain of truth to that. Maybe not. But snowflakes sure look pretty when they are dancing in the wind, don’t they? Not a care in the world…until they land on that silly concrete and just melt away…
But seriously, I work with and around a lot of really awesome Millennials, individuals born from 1980-1997 (today’s 20-37 year olds), and regardless of the stereotypes (selfish, entitled, needy), they have FUN and they embrace their FREEDOM.
The Millennials I know do things I never would have had the courage to do at their age.
- They go to Cuba for vacation (okay, I really couldn’t have done that, but you get the point)
- They quit their jobs on a whim (not always the best choice, but I gotta show some love for chutzpah)
- They start businesses from their iphones (I just learned how to use Google Docs)
- They expect good things to happen to them (whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?)
I’m thinking that maybe I ought to pick me up a little bit of that Millennial gumption and see how it mixes in with my Gen X ‘tude.
And squeezing us in on the other side of the generational divide we have the Baby Boomers, born from 1946-1964 (ages 53-71). Oh, how we love the Baby Boomers.
- They prospered like no generation before or since
- They had the guts to fight for Civil Rights and win
- They danced
- They enjoyed free love
- They fought the power (we need to learn from them now, don’t we?)
- And now they are spending all of our hard-earned social security dollars to keep the dream alive! What the???
They surely did make life easier for all the rest of us in some regards. I mean except for things like the environment, and healthcare, and basically ruining the economy for their kids and grandkids. But I’m not a suspicious Gen Xer or anything.
And now the Baby Boomers are in the midst of retirement–PAR-TAY!–quite possibly the last generation en masse to be able to retire before death. Thanks again, parentals! So glad that you are enjoying that big ol’ Social Security check each month. I hope you are putting some aside for me!
If you hadn’t already guessed, I am a doggedly proud member of Generation X, generally assigned the time span from 1965-1979 (today’s 38-52 year olds). We are often labeled as cynical (I’m sure you couldn’t tell), self-reliant (the original latch-key kids), and entrepreneurial. The “get ‘er done cuz nobody else will” generation, as I like to call it.
Gen Xers grew up despite their parents a lot of times, not always because of them. Divorce, single moms, latch-key kids, “just say no.” These bleak terms describe the childhoods many of us survived.
Okay, it wasn’t all that bad, we had Cabbage Patch Kids (and Garbage Pail Kids) and Mr. Rogers to keep us company. But no post-war economic boom or overcompensating parents for us. Despite my harsh words, don’t mess with our Moms. Seriously. They did it all, and they put up with us, and we show them mad respect.
We value hard work and in your face reality. I would venture to say Gen Xers watch more reality TV than anyone else, and why shouldn’t we since I’m pretty sure we created it! Remember Real World on MTV?
Easy just isn’t in our vocabulary. Maybe that’s why we are all so exhausted. It’s a lot of work holding everyone else up. The next generation WANTS to be coddled and nurtured and paid attention to all the time. Our parents NEED to be coddled and cared for and reminded all the time. What about us?
Right now it feels a little like I’m propping up the two bigger, happier generations on either side of me (did I mention that Millennials and Baby Boomers together outnumber Gen X by more than 80 million people), and I’m ready for some me time.
The battle between the generations is everywhere! From the most recent season of Survivor (I’m pretty sure it was season #504, Millennials vs. Gen X) to the steps of the Capitol (I’m still not ready to talk about the most recent election). I’m tired.
I’m going to go to a beach, to a mountain top, to the open road, to find me, take care of me, for a while. I’m sure every in between generation has felt this way, but I’m going to take a moment (or a year) to really let it sink in and revel in it.
And I encourage every other Gen Xer out there to do the same before you are sucked dry by your kids, your parents, your community. All of whom you love and have proven you would do anything for (get ‘er done!), but if you have any hope of actually surviving to see the outcome of all your hard work (or giving a crap when you do), you better embrace these words from Bender in the Breakfast Club, “Being bad feels pretty good, huh?” I plan to find out. Soon.
If you are interested in my decision to take a year off of work to focus on me, check out more of my blog!