Generation X is Middle-Aged

Lives That Are Marked By Divorce and Financial Instability

Andrew McCarthy, Molly Ringwald, and Jon Cryer in the John Hughes film, "Pretty in Pink"
Photo:Love Maegan on Flickr Creative Commons
Generation X is Middle-Aged
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Generation X is Middle-Aged

Because Generation X is eternally younger than the Baby Boomers, we just assumed they’d be eternally young. But a person born in 1965 turns 50 in two more years. Generation X somehow went gliding into mid-life without the rest of us noticing.

And, Gen-X’ers would say thats pretty typical, that they’ve never been part of anyone else’s plans from the time in their childhood when their parents got divorced and went spiraling off into personal reboot mode, leaving the kids to fen for themselves.

Now, many of them are stuck behind Boomers in various pipelines waiting for the Boomers to retire and, or, get out the way. And that’s not happening as fast as it should. So, today we’ll do what, if you believe certain narratives, we usually fail to do. We'll take the temperature of the cohort born between let’s say 1965 and 1980.

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Barb writes:

I was born in 1964, oldest of three children and the product of a devastating divorce which resulted when my mother left the family. When I as a 15 yr. old, I went to live with my mom, I was home alone constantly for days at a time. My mother's famous words to me were, "We trust your judgement", which I completely took advantage of at the time, and as a mother to two adolescent children myself now, seems absolutely absurd!! I did not fare well (insecurities resulting in an eating disorder and wayward and risk-taking behavior) and just recently finally, at nearly 50 have finished college and found my way. I made it my priority to make sure my children were not exposed to the blatant neglect that I felt, and the result is two very well adjusted young adults!! I do feel that we, as Gen Xers, do take away from our upbringings what NOT to do in raising our children!

Dallas writes:

Punk rock- undeniably the attitude of my generation


Jonathan writes:

Why is it that people of Generation X and baby boomers cry so much, at least they had economic booms that they could harness. At 25, I cannot find adequate employment that will pay for a roof over my head and my student loans. I understand that they had it tough but they had art and inexpensive goods and services. It is now impossible or at least close to it to expect my generation to find it's boot straps let alone pull our selves up by it.

Josh writes:

I've always compared the Baby Boomers and Gen X in terms of their respective dead (or near-dead) rock stars.

For the baby boomers, I think of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin who died of drug and/or alcohol overdoses. Jerry Garcia died in the 90s due to the long-term effects of heavy drug use. Jagger, Richards, Clapton and many others came close to ending their lives but were able to kick their habits. Their lives (and their deaths and near deaths) reflect the values of experimentation, free love, drug use, counter-culture, excess, lack of personal and collective responsibility, etc.

Of course, Gen X has its share of dead rock stars who succumbed to drugs (Lane Staley and Shannon Hoon come to mind). But for Gen X, I think of Kurt Cobain who was clearly depressed and took his own life. I think of Eazy E who died of AIDS. And I think of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls who were murdered. For me, Cobain's death was about not wanting to live in the box the music industry wanted him to live in. He was striving for a kind of authenticity that he was increasingly unable to reach. AIDS, of course, signaled the end of free love. And the rapper murders reflect a crazy rise in violence, access to guns, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, etc. It's all somehow connected.

Look at the dead rock stars and you see two very different generations.