Talkin’ About No Generation

“’I don’t have a generation,” said Suzanne Vale, exasperated.

“Well then I think you’d better get one,” replied Marty Wiener.”‘

-Carrie Fisher’s Postcards From the Edge.

The generation label has a lot to do with identity. You’re given a label: The Greatest Generation, The Silent Generation, The Lost Generation, Generation Jones, The Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y. But then there are those like me, and perhaps, Suzanne Vale, caught in the middle — on the cusp of two generations.

I was born in 1981, under a new president, a new decade and a few years before MTV hit the airwaves. I can identify with most everything that falls under Generation X, but they seem to scoff at the notion of including any children of the 80s in their club. On the other hand, I can’t really relate to Generation Y, my sister’s generation (1982-1997), because I didn’t spend my ultra-formative years on a computer, watching reality tv or thinking I didn’t have to work as hard as my parents to succeed.

At our multi-generational gathering in the Meatpacking District the other evening, I talked with Jeff Gordinier, author of the upcoming book, X Saves the World: How Generation X Got the Shaft but Can Still Keep Everything From Sucking. When defining Generation X, Jeff turned to what most other Gen Xers would, Wikipedia.com and averaged it out from about 1962-1977. What happens to those in the middle? They’re just hanging out on the cusp?

Which leads me to the idea that perhaps people in these “cusp years,” are more likely to wonder about their identity and feel without focus throughout their lives. Are we a part of the generation that’s making a difference? Or are we “all about Me?” And if we are truly in the middle, how do you strike a balance between the two, giving back, but still thinking about yourself? Perhaps that’s just part of the eternal struggle in every individual and not a generational thing at all. Still, it would be nice to not always feel like I’m on the edge. I’d like it if someone handed me one of the many road maps we use to navigate in a lifetime. It might make the trip feel a little more Hollywood and a little less like a Robert Frost poem.

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