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Who Am I? They Call Me Gen X!

This blog was inspired by the interview question, "Tell me a little about yourself." How am I supposed to put this and more into a 30-second answer?

We are the jilted and forgotten generation, born in the mid-60s to early 80s. We grew up in the '60s, '70s, and '80s, studied in the '70s and ‘80s, dated in the '80s to '90s, and married and had children in the '90s and early 2000s. We lived through the constant threat of nuclear war and the geopolitical tension between the US and the Soviet Union. We witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. We experienced drastic economic shifts with the recession of the early 1980s and the bursting of the dot-com bubble. We embraced the rise of personal computers, the Internet, and mobile technology. We are called the MTV Generation, and we survived the AIDS epidemic and championed cultural diversity, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ rights. I watched the Challenger Disaster in 1986 and the September 11 attacks in 2001 on TV as they were happening.

Though labelled Gen X, I feel more aligned with Millennials than Boomers. Raised by my Boomer siblings more than my parents, I was a latch-key kid, growing up in a rural setting with limited exposure to pop culture, TV, and music. My summers were spent at girl guide camp or the local country club, and winters were spent at the rink, where I enjoyed my freedom and independence. My teens were tumultuous with the separation of my parents and the subsequent death of my father, resulting in a move to the city and leaving my friends and the world I knew behind. New friends and city life immersed me in the vibrant 80s, which I embraced with vim and vigour. As a young adult, I was an early adopter of technology, and in my mid-20s, I realized I had a knack for it, which ignited my 25-year career in tech and shaped who I am today.

Growing up during the tail end of the Cold War, we were constantly aware of the possibility of a nuclear attack. This uncertainty fostered resilience and adaptability, teaching us to navigate a world where change and instability were constants. The fall of communism redefined our understanding of democracy and freedom, teaching us to appreciate the significance of political change. Major disasters, such as the Challenger in 1986 and the September 11 attacks in 2001, also reshaped our sense of safety and worldview, emphasizing the importance of resilience and adaptability.

Economic challenges, such as the recession of the early 1980s and the dot-com bubble, taught us the importance of financial security and resourcefulness. These experiences made us cautious and strategic about our spending and saving habits, and we developed strong problem-solving skills. The launch of MTV in 1981 and the cultural revolution that followed heavily influenced our tastes and lifestyles. The emergence of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s raised our awareness about public health and the importance of medical research and education, shaping our progressive values.

The rise of personal computers and the internet in the late 1970s and early 1980s made us the first generation to grow up with home computers. We seamlessly integrated digital tools into our personal and professional lives, becoming proficient in technology and bridging the gap between traditional and modern methods. We prioritize work-life balance, seeking flexible work arrangements that allow us to manage our professional and personal responsibilities effectively. In the workplace, we are known for our reliability and strong work ethic, demonstrating loyalty to our employers, especially when we feel valued and respected. We value inclusivity and have a broad understanding of cultural diversity, developed through significant cultural and social changes. Our practical and realistic approach to challenges focuses on creative solutions, tangible results, and achievable goals.

I have gone from landline telephones with a party line to wireless video calls anywhere in the world. I have been entertained by barely visible rotary family slides, to watching YouTube videos, vinyl records and cassette tapes, CDs, and now online music. Heck, I even remember my dad’s 8-tracks all over the car. I have gone from handwritten letters to email, to text and social media. I listened to live radio and watched a 10-inch black-and-white television. I rejoiced when we got colour and HD big-screen TVs and home theatres with surround sound. I know what beta is and watched VHS become mainstream, then DVDs, and Blu-ray battled it out. I went to Blockbuster video stores - and was kind to rewind - and now I watch Netflix and Amazon Prime.

We've seen and experienced a lot. We are survivors, having lived through an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. Our generation has adapted to constant change. We grew up with minimal adult supervision, learning the value of independence and work-life balance. We are self-sufficient, resilient, and open to change. We offer employers a wealth of knowledge, experience, and stability. We are Gen X. We are the experience-rich and we are ready for whatever comes next.


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