Generation X, my generation, is that quiet generation born in the mid-1960s to the early ’80s. We have respectfully held the coattails of the Baby Boomers and bridged the gaps between the old and the new from the time we were children through our current emergence as the parents, leaders, and caretakers of those both younger and older than us. It’s Generation X’s turn to rule the roost, make the rules, and ride the crest of the human experience!
We Knew How to Play. Members of Generation X have the unique advantage of possessing the knowledge and memories of the way it used to be and the way it is now. Our world was a blend of the wholesome era our parents knew mixed with the first sprouts of a futuristic paradise. We were the last generation of kids to grow up playing from sunup to sunset in the dirt with the innocence of those who did not see evil in the world. My friends and I would pile into the back of a station wagon with no seatbelts, and no one feared for us if we played hide and go seek well past dark in the summertime!
My childhood was so vastly different than what the children of today experience (known as the iGen, Generation Z, or the Centennials). I was born in ’73 to parents who divorced when I was a year old. My upbringing was enriched with nature, reading, sleepovers with movies rented from Blockbuster Video, mixtapes, and weekends with my grandparents, who were of the Greatest Generation.
Screen time was naturally limited by when “kid shows” were broadcast on TV. We learned to entertain ourselves without the constant overload of media stimulation. Our cartoons were just on Saturday morning, giving us ample time to also master our imaginations, social interactions, and hands-on feats.
While we appreciate the simple and quiet times enjoyed by our forefathers and mothers, we were among the first to try our hands at technology. We helped to pioneer the first video games, microwave ovens, cell phones, and entertainment in the home that could be played at our whim. We rocked the Walkman, rented the first movies, and set forth a massive revolution in computers and entertainment that influence every aspect of our lives today.
My home didn’t welcome a personal computer until I was a freshman in high school. My kids would laugh at this dinosaur that only displayed green characters on the screen and could perform just the simplest of functions!
Phone calls were made while tethered to long cords attached to telephones shared by the whole family. Messages to friends were passed stealthily under desks or in the hallway between class. We learned by living, doing, and going places!
Because we weren’t nursed from the cradle on tech, we have the ability to see and use the beauty and power of both the real and technological worlds. We know the importance of human contact, looking one another in the eyes, and relating on a personal level; but we are fully competent in using and advancing such things as social media and emerging gadgets of all sorts.
Our Place in History Shaped Who We are.
The children of Generation X suffered through the height of the divorce epidemic, shaping the way we live out our own relationships. The peak of divorce rates climaxed in the late 1970s and early ’80s, meaning that a large number of X kids grew up in broken homes.
As adults, Generation Xer’s are less prone to divorce, likely because we’re more cautious in choosing mates and have succeeded in learning from the marital mistakes of parents and grandparents. When divorce does occur, we feel more empowered to do what we must for ourselves and our children and less stigmatized about ending a marriage than the generations before us.
We Transformed Girl Power!
As a woman of Generation X, I am one of the millions of other women who balance family and career- something my mom never had to worry about! She was always a stay-at-home mom and was even bribed with a car not to go to college!
I am only the second college-educated female in my family and expect that my daughter and stepdaughter will also feel free to pursue any goals they have. I am proud that they now live in a world where women feel more empowered than ever to seek equality and justice, copious opportunities, and need not feel typecast to fulfill someone else’s version of femininity!
Without a doubt, the music of the ’70s-’90s was some of the best ever! On top of the great tunes, we had some of the most badass female stars modeling to us a wide variety of femininity and amazing skills! Cher, Dolly Parton, Joan Jett, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Sade, Cyndi Lauper, The Go-Go’s, Annie Lennox, and many more rocked us hard and set the stage for a galaxy of stars to follow including, Gwen Stefani, Lauryn Hill, Alannis Morrissette, and so many more!
These musical goddesses showed us all that female takes many forms from total glam to leather and spikes. She can be her own boss, work her own style, and play the soundtrack of our generation.
Every generation takes its turn at the helm of society. The Baby Boomers are now stepping down and making their journey through retirement and into retirement homes and the end of life. It is now their children, The X Generation, who are themselves the parents (and even grandparents!). Retirement, for many, is within view, but there is still much life to live and enough youthful enthusiasm to enjoy the fruits of years of hard labor!
Generation X now holds the reigns in caring for and making decisions regarding the outcome of our predecessors. It’s our turn to start saying goodbye to our parents and watch our nests begin to empty as our children grow up and move out. It’s our turn to be the bosses, the ones everyone leans on and looks to for guidance. We are the wise ones with both the keys to the past and the future. We will clean up the messes left before us and try to make a safe landing spot for the ones who will one day take our place.
One might compare Generation X to the middle child in a family. We quietly do our thing without demanding a lot of attention. Much of what we have done may go unnoticed by the generations before and after us; but, we dutifully persevere as caretakers, leaders, innovators, consumers, and friends. This generation provides balance to the great numbers of the Boomers (76 million of them versus 45 million of us!) and the fast pace of the Millennial and Centennial life.
I feel sad, though, for the millions of kids who do not know what it is to travel and play in their communities without fear. I pity the youth whose closest “friends” are from video games or viral videos instead of the flesh and blood variety. While advancements in our society have made our lives more carefree and enjoyable in many ways (I’ll admit I would be lost without Facebook, Pinterest, a cell phone as a back-up to my brain, and the ability to have the world at my fingertips through the internet), I also yearn for simpler times and am eternally grateful that I grew up in such a unique time!
Fast forward to the kids of today, and their greatest source of entertainment is endlessly watching YouTube videos, texting, or playing video games. Reportedly, fewer kids of today spend face-to-face time with peers and driving, dating, and working are delayed in comparison to previous generations. I have no complaints about waiting longer to date, and these delays have hidden benefits such as fewer car accidents and teen pregnancies.
What a gift it was to come of age in that special space of time known as Generation X!
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