Generation X and the Search for Identity at Midlife

generation x imageAlong with family dynamics, ethnicity, environment, and other collective factors of identity, generation also plays a part in who we are–from personal style, interests, and values to the lifestyle we lead. Being part of a generation defines us. But, what if our generation is undefinable?

Generation X, when we are defined, seems to have acquired the most negative labels of all the current generations–lazy, slacker, pessimistic, negative, unremarkable, etc. Now, at midlife, when we’re trying to redefine our lives and put them into context for the future, how do we make sense of these definitions and use them to find support from our generational peers and move forward to creating our legacy?

It’s harder as an X. We haven’t had historical focal points to define us like other generations: WWII for the “Great Generation”, Vietnam War and Hippie/drug culture for the Boomers, and the technological boom for the Millennials/Generation Y. Therefore, we haven’t had to build or assimilate into society as our initiation into adulthood like the previous two generations. However, we have had to deal with the dot com crash and the housing market crash, making us question the stability of the system and the possibility of being able to create a good future.

So at a time when we’re questioning our identity and our future, we’re also questioning the future of our world. Who will we be, and who can we be in 5, 10, 20+ years from now. With a world that is changing faster now than ever before due to technological advances, is that even a question we can ask?