Secular Thursday: Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

Generation X is often defined as encompassing the birth years 1961 to 1981. I can guarantee, though, that I am not Generation X.

Generation Y or the Millenials are sometimes defined as the mid to late 1970s through the late 1990s. I can equally guarantee, though, that I am not Generation Y.

I think there's a middle generation, or mini-generation. Ranging from approximately 1974 through 1982, we're stuck in the middle. We're neither fully Generation X nor anywhere near Generation Y. I've had this theory for a long time. The first time I remember being aware of the difference that would become my theory was in my late teens. I read things that told me I was part of Generation X, but I didn't agree with any of the characteristics I was supposed to have. None of my peers seemed to match, either. At first, I assumed I was actually part of the next generation, which was then unnamed. Two things changed my mind, though.

There were people at my high school, when I graduated, who didn't remember the Challenger exploding. It was always such a vivid memory for myself and others that I talked to that were my age. For the next age up, it didn't seem to have the same effect, but for us, it did. Then, the summer after my freshman year of college, I worked as a counselor for a summer enrichment program. The kids were 12, 13, and 14; surely they were part of my generation if my speculations a few years previous were correct. Except... there was a fundamental gap between us. I couldn't put a finger on it, and I still don't have a good grasp on it, but one day there was another stark reminder. "You know," I said, continuing a conversation, "Before Windows."

"Before Windows?" Their faces turned to me, incredulous. "I don't remember computers not have Windows!" There was a lot of agreement there. I was a strange Old Person who remembered before Modern Technology.

And I knew I wasn't part of that generation, either.

I've refined my theory through the years. How old were various people when Reagan was elected? George H.W. Bush? Clinton? What events of the world do they remember, and what do they not? Eventually, I decided on my 1974 to 1982 span. Over time, I noticed a trend. Even though I knew many people who did not fall into that span, thanks especially to having EG at an early age, there seemed to be some kind of gravitational pull at work. The Gen X'ers clustered together. The young whippersnappers clustered together. And then, there we were. Stuck in the middle.

Afraid that I was presuming too much about my own little slice of time - after all, don't we all want to be special? - I started asking others about my theory. I made sure to ask people who fell outside my time span, both older and younger, back into the Boomers, too. And over time, yes. A consensus emerged. On the cusp of a generational switch = an unique experience, neither one generation nor the other.

We don't have anything particularly defining, and it's not particularly important. But still, here I am - stuck in the middle (probably with you).


Gretchen said...

I've always sort of considered "my generation" to be other women who read Sassy in high school (the real Sassy, not the corporate sell-out Sassy).

Kash said...

Oh, god, yes. Sassy. <3

Smrt Mama said...

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

Kash said...

Does that make Gen X the clowns, and Gen Y the jokers, or vice versa?

Anonymous said...

LOL - I always wondered where I fit in with all that stuff, too. Great post!

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