It's been a year, people. When coronavirus became real last March, it cast a spotlight on the strength and resiliency of Generation X. That was great for our generation - well-deserved! Overdue! Articles and news stories celebrated how we were raised in times that set us up for successfully weathering something like a pandemic storm. Experts and bloggers touted our adaptability and independence, and our ability to fill hours upon hours finding something to do. Gen X was the poster child for enduring the unexpected.
But these quarantined times have been challenging for us Gen Xers in other, sneakier ways. 2020 reminded us that we “middle children” are truly in a period of aging. We are neither here nor there. And now, one year later and still stuck in a pandemic, even we are getting restless.
I can’t speak for all Gen Xers, of course, but I can share my experience and observations of my Gen X Girls Grow Up Facebook community, where 28,000 plus women, aged 40 – 55, engage in nostalgia of the more carefree, fondly-remembered years of growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. Pop culture, from the music and movies we loved, to the heartthrobs and tv shows that drew us in, still make us happy. And it’s not ending there. Reboots, from The Wonder Years in development to Punky Brewster launching on Peacock TV, are shouting “we’re still here!” The Go-Gos have been back in the spotlight, and Genesis announced tour plans. Even Judy Blume's iconic "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret" is, at long last, being adapted into a film by Lionsgate! Gen X Girls can't wait! Rob Lowe’s podcasts are raising our spirits. We are still the heartbeat of a culture refusing to die, despite Millennials everywhere, and Gen Z rising.
But, pop culture aside, midlife is marked by several exclamation points now, as we realize, once again, that we are neither here nor there. And the pandemic is taking a year away now. I, Gen X aside, am losing patience. I miss my mom, and I am getting angry. I miss traveling to see family or friends, and I am getting restless. I miss being able to write things in my datebook (yes, I still use hard copy datebooks), and am getting frustrated. Depending on the time of day, I feel stuck, sad, and sick of everything.
I know I should be used to hanging in there and just figuring things out on my own, like I did as a Gen X kid. Noone will solve my problems, or lead me down a perfectly-sculpted path to a rainbow at the end. (That's what rainbow stickers were for.) But I am exhausted and discouraged. I thought this would be over by now!
So, I will do what I can to keep that Gen X spirit alive. We may roll our eyes, but we will get though. We may want to shout, but maybe we’ll just talk to (or amongst) ourselves. We will show younger generations patience is a virtue. But, now almost a year into the pandemic, this is harder to do.
Gen X will come through, though, because we always do. We survived without bottled water, car seats or cell phones. Without awards for everything. Without avocado toast. Without parents picking us up, or even knowing where we were. Without “normal” one house families. Without everyone telling us everything will be ok.
We missed phone calls if we weren’t home. We missed our favorite tv shows if we were out. We missed the right party or the right friend if we drove around in the wrong neighborhood, at the wrong time, on Friday nights. We faced disappointment weekly at Blockbuster. If we didn’t have enough quarters at the arcade or roller rink
, there was no debit card to fall back on. We made do. Surely we can now, for what...maybe a few more months? Longer?
The Gen X road is rough right now, but our spirit will rise above it, still and again. It is our destiny to be the King of Pain.