With all the talk about Millennials and Baby Boomers and how to live in harmony in the workplace, I get very confused. Why? Well because I’m neither.
As we tidily put people in buckets based on the year they were born, let’s take a moment to reflect on a small generation that belongs to neither and is quite different than both. May I introduce you to the middle child Generation X.
Kennedy was already shot. The destruction of the Vietnam War was being televised on our little black and white TV sets while we ate our morning cereal. A president resigned for reasons we didn’t fully understand but knew that he lied and that was bad. For 1 year, 2 months, 2 weeks, and 2 days, we were reminded of hostages being held in Iran. There were gas shortages and an energy crisis. We had a movie star elected as the president in a near landslide victory. We watched the Berlin Wall come down and began to think that communism was not as much of a threat as once thought, but we did see other threats to humanity.
We had parents that both worked and we were likely left to fend for ourselves as we went through life. We were dubbed the latchkey kids.
We had parents that both worked and we were likely left to fend for ourselves as we went through life. We were dubbed the latchkey kids. We didn’t get the fun of the hippy era of sex, drugs and rock and roll. We did get the sexually transmitted diseases, crime and addiction that came with it.
Trust me when I say we are not Baby Boomers. When we had children, both parents were expected to work to make ends meet. We decided that being latchkey kids wasn’t so great so we opted to have our children in daycares. As women, we struggled with when to get married, when to start our families, and how we would fit it all in to coincide with our career goals.
We laughed when we were told computers would be in every house. For what reason we had no idea. We didn’t have cell phones. We took pictures with cameras that required film. The pictures we took were of others and of the places we visited. Our music evolved from being stored on vinyl records, 8 tracks, cassettes, and CDs. We have watched technology evolve and reshape how we communicate with our fellow humans.
Our lives have been nothing but change, nothing but adversity, nothing but compromises for the greater good. Much like how we are between the Baby Boomer and Millennials, we are the ones that fill in the gaps in the workplace. We are self-taught, fiercely independent, and are not afraid of being left alone. In fact, we prefer to be left alone, after all, that has been our entire life.
We are observers. We see history repeating itself. The generation before the Baby Boomers was as concerned about leaving our country with the drug smoking, rock and roll loving hippies as they are now concerned about the leaving it to the Millennials and their quest for happiness, approval, and balance.
Perhaps that is where Generation X is really unique. We were unnoticed. We supported the Baby Boomers rise through the ranks and we are supporting the Millennials as they start to find their way. We recognize that the Millennials have the floor. We have an obligation to nourish their development into the leaders of tomorrow.
So, as we are classifying people into categories based on their year of birth, know we are out there, we are silent, we are watching and we can still make a difference.