I’m a GenXer (or sexy-exie as I like to call myself after a glass of wine). According to 99% of what I read about my generation and yours, I’m supposed to despise every one of you lazy, unproductive, self-obsessed, avo-toast eating brats.
But I don’t. I love you to pieces.
You’re kind. You’re thoughtful. You’re collaborative. You care about other people, the state of the world and the health of the planet. In short, you were raised well.
And, I think that’s where the problem lies. As any Gen X’er can tell you, whatever it is that ails you is all the Boomers’ fault (it’s always the Boomers’ fault).
Your parents raised you to be critical thinkers. But they don’t like it when you show that critical thinking in the office. (Demanding)
Your parents involved you in family decisions such as where to go on vacation, what movies to watch or what to have for dinner. Yet, they don’t like it when you expect to be involved in decisions in the workplace. (Entitled)
They raised you to be fair and open-minded and compassionate to others. Yet they don’t like it when you call out toxic or negative behaviours in the workplace. (Snowflake)
They raised you to be problem solvers, yet they don’t like it when you reject the traditional office job in search of more flexible, creative work that will allow you to live the life you want. (Demanding, entitled, snowflake).
So here’s some Gen-X advice.
You can’t win the generational battle.
So stop worrying about it.
Just do your thing.
Gen-Xers were characterized as half-assed slackers, even as we were building the foundations of the World Wide Web (Netscape, Paypal, Amazon, Yahoo! – ever heard of those?) But, being the cynical nihilists we are, we ignored it. And so should you.
Stop owning the labels. Stop owning the whole notion that “millennial” is some kind of sentence or censure. Stop calling yourself a millennial. You’re an artist or an architect or a nurse or a software engineer. You’re a dog lover or a tree hugger or a secular surfing Sufi... Who gives a shit what year you were born?
My grandmother was born in 1908 in a prairie farmhouse. She lived through WWI, the great depression and then WWII. She witnessed the invention of television and then watched the moon landings from her living room. She was a part of the “Greatest Generation”, but you never heard her call it that. In fact, no one called it that until Tom Brokaw made it up some time in the late nineties. She just lived it. She found joy. She found love. She tried to do her part to make the world a little better than she found it.
I miss my grandma. We should all try to be like her.
And in keeping with her dedication to honesty and integrity, I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Boomers, and I’m sad to say, most X’ers love to hate on you because they’re envious of you. You’re young. You were well raised. You’re well educated. You have all the opportunity in the world (even if it doesn’t always feel that way). It’s all still ahead of you.
Once last thing. Generation Z (born 1995 – 2014) who are coming up behind you are even more amazing than you are. My two lovely nephews are Gen Z. Don’t hate on them. Blaze the trail for them. Because that's the kind of people you are.