I never gave much thought to the label that was placed on my generation, when I was in my 20’s, however, as I began to see the negative connotation for which society labeled us, I began to get angry that many Boomers truly did see us this way. I mean the name Generation X, which covers a span of children born from 1960-1985, I myself born in 1967, was essentially setting us up to fail, saying in essence that we are X, we are nothing. A bunch of lazy, unmotivated, young adults, perfectly content to sit around and watch MTV and get high. Unaffected by the world around us, and not wanting to go out and protest like the generation of “Boomers” before us, who were seeking to make a difference, but were also in truth, conflicted by the Vietnam War, wanting to dodge a draft, who began exploring sex, drugs, and rock and roll, on the heels of Woodstock, and becoming way too comfortable with “Free Love”. Their way of bucking the establishment. Which I must admit, did have its merit, and did introduce us to some pretty kick ass rock and roll and set the stage for us Gen-Xer’s to begin to do a little bucking of the establishment of our own.
Now fast forward to midlife of Gen-X’ers, ( ages 40-50) and researchers see us as successful entrepreneurs, happy, well-adjusted, and even dubbed us as the ” Greatest Generation,” according to Tom Brokaw, who praised us as the hardest working generation since World War II, stating that our smart business savvy led to the high-tech boom and led the country towards economic growth. A recent study conducted by Longitudinal Study of American Youth, found us to be a generation that is happy, balanced, and active, based on a scoring to the question when asked by Gen-Xer’s how happy they were with life, on a scale of 1-10, 10 being most happiest, the median score was 7.5, with only 4% claiming dissatisfaction, and 29% being very happy with a grading of 9 or 10.
Another area where we received praise was our parenting style, which described us as “stealth fighter parents” who let minor issues go with their children and did not hover the way Millennials and Boomers did. We were also said to have the highest work ethic, be the most helpful, most skilled, and possessing the best trouble shooting skills! We also received kudos for being a generation of unconventional sex, friendship and family, as well as seeing the cultural emergence of cross genres of music, including hip-hop and grunge, as well as the creation of mainstream Cinematography and the Indie genre of film.
My fellow Gen-X’ers I am proud of what we have accomplished, and how I see all of these symbolic traits of Gen-X’ers, in my friends and family. We answered the call as a Generation of nothing, of X, and we made it our mission to excel and prove Boomers, and prior generations wrong. We are happy with our lives, with our careers, our family, our friends and more importantly ourselves. We found the courage to breakdown barriers, to wage war against the establishment, and not settle for status quo. We wanted better for our world, our children, and ourselves. We made no excuses, we chose to co-parent, to not hover over our children, we chose to be tolerant, to embrace who people were meant to be, to celebrate differences, to acknowledge and accept the LBGT community, we chose to not stay in bad marriages just because we took vows, to strive for equality, and most importantly, we made the choice to be happy.
Every generation feels that they did far better than the one before them, and that future generations are failing to continue what they started. Nothing infuriates me more then when I hear people making excuses for other generations. Many people claim that Millenials are the entitled generation, that they are lazy and don’t want to work hard, that they want to listen to rap music and smoke pot, and don’t want to excel. Funny thing is they said that about us Gen-X’ers and look how far we have come and what we have done in a few decades. Let us not seek to blame, that was the past, a disillusioned establishment, who wanted to point fingers and find fault, instead of getting off their collective asses and find solutions. We have the power for real change, we have the knowledge to do better now, because we know better now. We don’t have to bare the shame of what past generations did, if we seek to learn from these mistakes, and we truly can be the change we want to see in our world. But change won’t come about at the hands of separatist views, skewed political ideals, religious and racial supremacy, or even righteous indignation.
Our world becomes better the moment we see ourselves as one nation, one people, devoid of hatred, separatism, elitism, and begin to see that each generation had the power within them all along, but Gen-X’ers were the ones who made it happen!
Sinfully and proudly a Gen-X’er,