I was born in 1983, which means my childhood was analog and my adolescence was shaped by the emerging digital culture that would define our world as I entered adulthood. Me and my peers spent hours carefully cultivating our online profiles in middle school and high school. Personal computers were commonplace my freshman year of college but very few of us had personal cellphones that were used for anything beyond emergencies. The AOL away message eliminated the need for answering machines during those years and my senior year of college, I joined about 5,000 other people on an intimate social media network known as The Facebook.
College Clay and Karen taking a selfie (usie?) the old-fashioned way –
with a disposable film camera. #xennials
I am too young to be issued a membership card for Generation X and too old to be granted access to club Millennium. Thankfully a new term has been coined for those of us who had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood – we’re considered Xennials. We’re supposed to have both the optimism of millennials and the cynicism of Gen Xers and we are fast approaching middle-age. A lot of us have married, had children, earned promotions, and contributed to healthy investment portfolios that will lend themselves nicely to retirement. We don’t necessarily miss the good ol’ days but we miss the freedom from responsibility. We find ourselves singing along with Mr. Brightside as we drive the kids to school and wondering where Teck from Real World Hawaii ended up in life. We watch Cruel Intentions whenever we come across it on a streaming service and we remember where we were on 9/11 and when the OJ Simpson trial verdict was announced.
I wrote on Facebook the other day that I did not take a gap year in between high school and college and wondered if it were too late to take one now. Not surprisingly – many of my fellow Xennials chimed in and agreed that such a year is wasted on youth. Not that I am disenchanted with my life – it is pretty grand. And I don’t really believe in regrets – especially since I’ve never been arrested or interacted with shadowy figures in trench coats. But there are things I’d do a little differently on the march toward middle age now that I have the benefit of hindsight.
So here’s to us Xennials – most of us don’t have it all figured out like we thought we would by this age (seriously…17 years ago the age of 35 seemed soooo old), but we’re beginning to realize what is really important in life. It’s not about our possessions, the size of our house, or how much money is in the bank. Life is meant to be experienced – a journey through peaks and valleys is more preferable than a steady race because we now recognize the value of hard lessons. We crave simplicity and understanding. We are Xennials – and damn proud of it.