I recently learned I am a minority. This particular assemblage has nothing to do with race, gender or religious conviction. It’s not related to education, social status or monetary standards. It’s a faction I didn’t choose yet am bound to by birth. I am part of Generation X, the smallest generation of the most recent four. Born 1965 – 1981, Gen Xers number only 46 million compared with Traditionalists (born prior to 1946) at 75 million, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) at 80 million and Millennials (born 1982 – 2000) at 76 million. In spite of being dwarfed by two powerful segments of society, I believe Gen Xers are key witnesses to history.
Every generation wonders how their ancestors managed without modern conveniences. When I was in school, we were tested on our knowledge of the library card catalog. This wooden box of drawers with index cards unlocked the mysteries of research and information. Now, I surf the Internet. If I am lost while driving I don’t need a map; I listen to my GPS system and a friendly voice guides me to familiar territory. I remember when my favorite artists made a new record but now embrace MP3s.
My husband and two best friends are Baby Boomers while my mom and grandma are Traditionalists. This convergence of values and philosophies has provided me with a rich pool of advice and experience that I apply to my decision-making. I appreciate my washing machine as my grandma recounts washing everything by hand. As I drive down the interstate, I remember my mom recalling a time it wasn’t there. I have embraced 70s Southern Rock and gladly attend Lynard Skynard concerts with my husband. I’m sure Millennials roll their eyes when I say something that sounds old-fashioned to them. I guess I have turned the corner from feeling young and invincible to wondering what will happen to kids today. I remember spending my childhood reading and using my imagination to create secret worlds. Now, I look at my nephews and feel a little sad. They spend their free-time glued to a computer or TV screen. I want them to explore and read. I want them to understand how much the world has changed and be thankful for what they have. The oldest one wants to direct movies. I hope he does. I hope he learns America’s history and keeps it alive. He thinks my husband and I are “cool.” It makes me feel good to think I’m still relevant in spite of more gray hairs popping up everyday.
Generation X is a small but important part of this time in history. We’ve witnessed it, we’re making it and we’ll become it. My mom always told me “the face you have at 40 is the face you earned.” As I rapidly approach my 40-year-old face I do so with anticipation. I look forward to being 50 and 60 and perhaps like my grandma, 90-plus. I just hope I keep my “cool” status.
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