I’ll be somewhat disclosing my age here by writing this essay, but there’s a point to be made about the generation that I am a member of.
The generation that has been defined by experts as those who came after the baby boomers are now grown. The Generation X—because no one could fucking come up with a better name—today are now looked upon as … well, are they still relevant?
I say hell yes.
I look back to when I graduated in the 90s (not disclosing), and I can’t help but reflect on the laissez-faire attitude we had. Some of us went to school to prepare ourselves for what’s beyond, and some of us went to school to determine when the next party was happening. I did not fit in either group—which was just fine with me. To prepare myself for what’s beyond was too much for my comprehension, and to even remotely think of going to the next party required logistics that made me just want to stay home. When graduation time came there was a promise of the possibilities of the “future is so bright, you have to wear shades” in those speeches.
But, they were all lies hidden in the core of a glimmering sphere of excitement.
No one would have guess that the generation who graduated while dessert storm was happening will become the generation who will witness the most tragic spectacular moments in history.
Generation X’ers witnessed the following:
The Fall of the Berlin Wall
Desert Storm War
Oklahoma City Bombing
Internet Business Boom
Internet Business Crash
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newton, Vegas, Parkland…
This list goes on right? I almost feel as if my generation is Dobby in the Harry Potter series—witnesses to the Wizarding World, and the slaves to its people.
We have been studied, and concluded that our work ethic is what drives and motivates us. We are the generation where the women felt that they can do it all: raise a family, and maintain a career. The ability to possess good work ethic and being driven weren’t always the case—we were also the generation who grew up with The Breakfast Club who categorized ourselves in high school as the nerd, the popular queen, the weirdo/weirdette, and the jock. Some of those nerds built those computers, by the way. Don’t hate. The Baby Boomers blamed us for being otiose (lazy AF), and the millennials are continuously criticizing our inability to function a smart phone.
Most of us grew up eventually able to find our own way. I remember the quote featured in my graduation invitation card was by Henry David Thoreau:
If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.
Whoever decided to use this quote must have been aware of who we were. Some of us knew what we wanted to become, and some of us took our time in finding ourselves.
We may be the generation often overlooked, studied, blamed everything on—but, lately, I am feeling such great vindication. There are times when I think, “my god, how stupid were my friends and I growing up such ignoramuses of the world around us? We were the bi-product of ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures’—idiots.” There is truth to that—I don’t deny. But, then something has shifted recently that could perhaps vindicate and make up for the stupid shit we’ve done: the recent activism of the young generation of the teenagers in Florida.
They’re giving hope by showing what it truly means to fight for what you believe in and not just suffocate such beliefs in fear. They’re bolder, they have the ability to speak articulately, and from the ashes of their grief– this fearless ferocity to make right what went wrong has risen.
No matter what one’s beliefs (spiritual or political) are, one cannot argue that we all have to tip our hats to this younger generation.
So, why I am feeling a sense of vindication as a Generation X’er and especially in this current social climate? Simple: I can’t help but feel proud.
Because the undeniable truth of the matter is those fearless and bold students are children… and many of them are children of Generation X.
Alas–with or without knowing it, advertently or inadvertently—we may have been something right all along.
Here’s to the parents of those young activists–those parents who’s supporting them, driving them to places where their voices can be heard, raising them to find their own convictions as well as their voice,consoling them as they process their grief, being there for them when the cameras and journalists are long gone, and unconditionally loving them.
You have come a long way from St. Elmo’s Fire.