Photo Credit: wpwend42 Creative Commons.
Mostly when I was a kid, I was doing what kids do – piano lessons, school, learning to skate, reading, discovering boys, makeup and Farah Fawcett.
But in the background there were certain events that shaped my subconscious sense of the world:
- A continuous, vague terror that the world would be blown up by nukes
- Fear of the USSR and fear of China
- Mulroney as PM; Reagan as president
- Crazy inflation (oh yes, I remember! chocolate bars jumped from ¢10 to ¢25 in a year!)
- Advent of McDonalds and McJobs
- Discovering their were no decent jobs for my cohort when we graduated
- Graduating with depressing student debt loads
- Growing up when adults were hippies and seeing them morph to yuppies
- Women and the glass ceiling; women backing off from feminism
- St. Elmo’s Fire, Thirty-Something, LA Law
- The movie Wall Street and its legendary Greed is Good speech
In short, it seemed like there was always a promise … a golden promise …that was just out of reach. Just ahead of us were people with great jobs, advancing their careers and building their stock portfolios.
For me? I worked like a madwoman – competent, educated, dedicated – and yet always felt one step behind, somehow, until I started my own business as a money coach.
I took this personally, until I found out that it was sheer demographics: The tail-end boomers got the remaining good jobs, the market maxed out, and my peers and I were left stranded. Sucks to be Gen X!
But there’s good news coming. The world will be our oyster within five years. Or it would be, if those baby boomers would hurry up and retire, already. And the probability of that just took a nose-dive, since retirement portfolios are no longer so attractive.
But I’m not bitter. Yet.
I do recognize myself, shockingly so, in this National Post summary of Gen X, by Ray Williams. He writes of Gen X:
They question authority, seek bigger meaning in life and work, are technologically savvy, live in the present, are skeptical, see career as a key to happiness, are open to multi-careers, consider challenge and variety as being more important than job security and constantly aim to achieve work-life balance….the Generation X manager is typically mature beyond their years, very adaptable and flexible, and team oriented. They have high expectations of employees and don’t buy into power structures. Generation X managers need positive validation for their work or they will not hesitate to quit their jobs. They hate being micro-managed and want independence in their work, which may explain why so many of this generation have turned to entrepreneurship.
That’s a characterization I can live with. And with any luck, my peers and I will indeed discover our unique strengths as more senior management roles finally, finally open up to us. Just don’t expect me to cheer lead any strategies to retain our aging workforce, ok?
Readers, any of you Gen Xers? Does this resonate for you?