Here’s to the Class of 1999 (as well as for anyone else close enough in age to relate this).
We were born between the fall of 1980 and the summer of 1981; currently the ones turning 30 within the next year. It was us who remember having vinyl records in our house during our early Elementary School days, but by the time we got to Junior High we learned the cool kids were getting CD players. We remember how in the 3rd grade when The Simpsons came out, our parents hesitated to let us watch it, and now we wonder in amazement that they’re still making new episodes of it, and how tame and polite the show seems now compared next to Family Guy.
During our high school days, we came home and fell asleep to a Saved by the Bell marathon until dinner was ready. We clearly remember the horrific Columbine shooting in Colorado happening just a few weeks before our high school graduation. (The event actually happened on my 18th birthday.)
Yes, we remember Teddy Ruxpin and slap bracelets. We remember when The Ren & Stimpy Show was the coolest show ever. And how we looked up to the D.A.R.E. officers who came into our classrooms and told us how horrible marijuana was, yet these days it seems so many people I talk to who are my age are in favor of legalizing it, unashamedly and matter-of-factly pointing out how the tax revenue could be used to save the entire bankrupt state of California.
We are part of Generation X, barely: The last year of Generation X ended in 1981. That means the new generation, Generation Y, began in 1982, just 7 full months after I was born. After a motivation speaker at work a few weeks ago gave characteristics of each generation, I confirmed my belief that I’m not a typical Generation X guy; and if anything, I’m more Generation Y. The caricatured characteristics of the generations (below) are from notes I took while listening to the speaker that day, Dan Baker:
Generation X: 1961-1981
33% of the work force, first generation to get divorced, “latch-key kids”, high-tech, loner, needs to be happy, reward-motivated, blames everyone else for their problems, high work ethic, works the bureaucracy, cold-blooded practical
Generation Y (Millennial): 1982-2001
20% of the work force, lacks people skills, no sense of authority, no sense of boundaries, not intimidated by threats, has no prejudice, not motivated by money, loves to be mentored, learns by mistakes, learns quickly, knows how to trick the system, “so what?” generation, wants to feel special, wants someone to care about them, needs to “be built”, bad listener, good watcher, needs encouragement, not good at having real friendships- partly because they rely so heavily on social networks (texting, facebook, etc.)
I definitely relate with a few Generation X characteristics: I’ve always born more of a loner and am content being that way. I need to be happy. I know how to work the bureaucracy. And because I’m not a black-and-white, cut-and-dry person, I am definitely cold-blooded practical.
But as a whole, more Generation Y traits jumped out at me: I am not intimidated by threats. I am as little prejudice as I know to be humanly possible. I am definitely not motivated by money (I have been preached to my whole life that money isn’t everything and that it doesn’t make people happy, and I believe it). I do love to be mentored, just as I love to mentor. I totally know how to trick the system; it’s one of my specialties- taking a machete to red tape. I’m not so good of a good listener, but I’m always watching, even when you don’t want me to. And I need encouragement.
I “work the bureaucracy” be being faithful and loyal to people for the long run (Gen. X), but I’m not faithful or loyal to the system because I “know how to trick the system” (Gen. Y). I am “cold-blooded practical” (Gen. X) about all my decisions and opinions, yet because I am motivated by encouragement and want to feel special (Gen. Y), I am not being practical because I am letting my “feelings” control me and allowing others’ opinions of my achievements to become part of the deciding factor of whether or not I am successful in what I do.
So I predict that most other people born around 1981 are in this similar situation where they don’t identify fully with either generation, but instead with elements of both. And I’m sure the hybrid traits I have adopted are not necessarily the same ones as other people born in 1981. But I do find it pretty interesting how my way of thinking and outlook on life resemble specific X and Y traits.
So now you know. It’s official. You’re Generation X, but there’s a good chance you act and think more like Generation Y. We’re the in-betweens. And I think that makes us feel special; which for our generation, is pretty dang important.