There was an unmistakable pace that came into existence during the 1990s. It is not clear exactly why, but the pace of life had been ramping up all during the eighties. When the nineties burst onto the calendar, it did so with an urgency that was as of yet unknown throughout the world.
Whether it was the ever-advancing technology or the fact that there seemed to be more and more to fit into a day, as kids, we saw our parents rushing around. This was us coming off of a decade that saw more than two working parent families, as well as an increase in divorces. We were the latchkey kids, the ones who came home to a parentless house and had to figure it out.
As women forged further up corporate ladders, men did not go home to take care of the kids and house. Instead, kids became more integral in running households. As a woman now, I appreciate what was happening, but I am not foolish enough to look back and think that it didn’t significantly affect all of us, but especially for us few years that fall into the Gen Y category.
It was the epitome of the beginning of hurry up to slow down. As our parents figured out a changing working world, we figured out how to come home, do our increased chores, get to our homework, often starting dinner, and figure out how to still have fun.
For the Gen Yers, we were coming out of our actual childhood years as the 90s dawned. We were the kids who saw the dawning and prime years of MTV, with constant stimulus at our fingertips. We had access to computers and games – and so on, the internet would be our number one go-to. We had walkmen, and later discmen, attached to our ears when the home phone wasn’t.
We never stopped. We may not have played outside as much as previous generations, but we certainly did more than those that would follow. What we did do was make multitasking an art form. We were the kids who talked on the phone as we did homework and had to stay up to see our favorite band premiere their newest music video – back when that was a thing MTV showed and wasn’t just a YouTube thing.
The pace began up ticking in the early years but only increased as the 1990s continued. As we entered our tweens, the pace only increased as homework loads got heavier and the internet became more accessible. Days grew longer as college educations became more essential. We tried to fit every extra-curricular in with homework and social life.
Well-rounded was the name of the game. To be well-rounded was the new goal of every kid’s life, and that’s all we could think about. As we watched our parents shuffle, our older siblings go off. More and more opportunities were becoming available due to the ever more advancing tech and internet access.
We saw the changing world, and we knew that we had to step up. Now, we are on that cusp. We look at Gen X and see so many of them that are set in their ways – the first current “microgeneration.” They fight hard against being associated with Boomers. They are fully defined from some of the things that are associated with us in Gen Y.
Gen Xers were born between the 1960s and 1980. They are the generation that is entirely associated with latchkeys and are known as the “MTV Generation.” However, they struggle more than Yers with change and rolling with the punches. The few years that are in between full-fledged Xers and Millenials are apparent when they get together and try to communicate or work.
Whereas Gen Xers were seen as slackers by the generations before them, Millenials are seen simply as coddled and entitled by many. These generalizations are, of course, ridiculously oversimplified, but they should be thankful that they are at least acknowledged. Again, us born between ’79 and ’83 genuinely do not feel at home in either categorization.
As we always have, we are scrambling at the pace that was set for us in our formative years. We look to the Xers and Boomers and try to outdo them – frankly because that is how we were raised. We look to fullfledged Millenials and are confused by what sometimes seems to be a lack of motivation or empathy. We struggle to leave them to their own devices, trying to mentor them – even though often they don’t want it.
So we remain in the middle, the perpetual forgotten child striving to catch up to Gen X yet trying to pull Millenials up to where we feel they should be. We get shunted to one classification or the other depending on who is looking at us and what faults they are specifically looking for at the moment in time.
However, we are our own generation. We have some of the qualities of both generations right before or right after us, but we have many of our own quirks. It will forever be this way, us being lumped into generations that we are simply on the fringes of.
At least – as always – that is how I see it…
Until next time.