Generation X. This has been eating at me for a long, long while and I have to get this off my chest.
The Brainy Pint Sizer can relate to those born between the mid-60s to the mid-70s. (Don’t worry, I have much love for the rest of my generation — those who fall in the mid-70s to the mid-80s.) There are millions of us who were birthed by Baby Boomers. We charged into our teens and went through young-adulthood with no respect. None. We were unfairly bashed. Why? Slackers? Really?
If you graduated from college around the time of the Internet or Dot-com Boom with a degree that clicked, then good for you. If you didn’t, you were screwed, and you sought any job you could get your hands on. And that’s the truth. I felt it. Then, the Boom led to a Bust. Bam!
Yes, times today are tough, I feel for my Gen Y peeps and tweeps, and yes, I’m employed, but the feeling or the threat that you could lose your job on any day at any time is unpleasant, to say the least (especially when you have Judases in your midst).
Let me break it down for you:
It wasn’t a cake-walk for most Gen X-ers then, and many of us are still struggling to achieve the success of our parents’ generation — because…get ready for this — We really thought we would be financially much better off than our parents (and our grandparents)! Reality Check: There are lots of us who don’t even own our own home. Sure, we indulge, I admit that, but for those of us who can bang with a budget, we make things happen. I get it with the empathy and sympathy for Gen Y, but there’s a whole generation before them. We didn’t have ‘Helicopter Parents’. We defined the term: ‘latch-key kid’ and many of us fended for ourselves.
A critique I’ve heard is that I have a chip on my shoulder with the attitude of “Me against the world.” Well, I chalk that up to circumstance. Don’t like the attitude? Keep it to yourself because I am truly a survivor and I know many others who are too. The West Indian Mother was too busy (and then too exhausted) after working 2 -3 jobs at any given time. I knew I had to get an education by any means necessary, work and craft my own hustles on the side to make anything of myself. Sometimes I have not been treated the way I felt I should have been treated as an employee, and I know plenty of others who have busted their butts and have been treated much worse. I’m talking major mess — so much so that they have actually walked into work and have had to walk out — jobless, and then filed charges. (Being a woman ain’t always easy in the work world.) Simply, the fact that even I and other Gen X-ers have not reached our potential (as we believe we should have) is very troubling.
- Graduated from high school or earned a G.E.D.? Check.
- Graduated from college or trade/vocational school? Check.
- Pursued graduate study or just additional formal training, like certificates? Check.
- If not degreed or achieved other formal training, have been consistently employed? Check.
- Joined associations or simply attended networking events? Check.
- Been relatively conservative about spending, splurging occasionally — yes, but overall been responsible? Check.
I need to get my hands on the Gen X issue of Time Magazine from 1997. I know it’s 15 years old, but the cover story, “Great Xpectations of So-Called Slackers“, is interesting. If you haven’t read it, you should. It brings me back — way back. When the article mentions things like ‘junk bonds’, I’m thinking, ‘Hmmm…’ Now, look at us. We got a nice dose of a financial crisis that has b*tch-slapped the entire country and the world into chaos. Priceless. And then there are the college loans. They’re special, aren’t they? Most of the Gen X-ers I’m around still speak about their college loans — and we graduated years ago. We are still carrying them on our backs. If you were lucky, you were able to find a sweet deal of low-interest rates and hoped you wouldn’t lose your job and default on the loans. I’ve crossed paths with a number of Gen X-ers who have had to file for bankruptcy. For some, it was poor financial planning or no financial planning, but for others, it was just them drowning in debts of all kinds, including mountains of student loans.
What’s with this ‘slacker’ bullsh*t? I don’t know who was ‘slacking’ in my world. They were sacrificing big time, and if you were West Indian, you were, as it was comically said on ‘In Living Color’, working “16 job.” Trust me. Hollywood is an escape from reality (as it has always been). We weren’t living in California and surfing. My friends and their families weren’t living like ‘The Breakfast Club’ or ‘Dynasty’. And the People of Color who I knew were not living like The Huxtables on ‘The Cosby Show’ either. None of our large, extended immigrant family were living in squalor but we certainly were not living in brownstones.
I’ll defend my generation when I feel they’re being slighted. We have had a boatload of issues for several decades. I believe cumulatively, we have never, truly soared. If you’re doing great — fantastic, I’m happy for you. But, there are many who are not and have not.
Where are my Generation X-ers? What do you have to say? And, Baby Boomers with Gen X children (who, obviously, are adults) — do you think they’re ‘better off’ than you were at their age, and if so, why? (P.S. This space isn’t for your political party rants. Save that for somebody else’s space.)