Gen X: A Generation in the Shadow

The other day, I walked down the hall to go talk to someone I work with.

Yes, I still go to a physical workplace; I work in critical manufacturing. The menace keeping so many home and hurting right now is largely why we still have our doors open.

But this short piece isn’t about that.

Where was I? Right… Walking. Down a hallway. Thinking my boots were clomp, clomp, clomping with each step. As I paused at the doorway to his office, my co-worker looked up. Then almost jumped out of his skin. He hadn’t heard me arrive, at all.

As much as I thought my walking was noisy, it wasn’t. If anything, I felt like one of those creepy characters that appears out of nowhere, quickly fading from view.

Oddly, this has me thinking of my generation, Gen X. Smashed somewhere between Boomers and Millenials is a whole ‘nother group of humans watching the world melt from the shadows. There was a time we were called “the whiners,” but that’s no longer a thing; in fact, most generations don’t call us anything, anymore. I have to wonder if it’s because they don’t even know we’re (still) here.

Or because we proved them wrong.

Like my quiet foot falls, I often I feel we aren’t as “loud” (“visible”) as we think we are. It annoys me to be force-fed music from the 60s and 70s as if no other generation ever mattered or ever will (sorry y’all, I personally think most that era is overrated). Seeing the world revolve around Boomers and Millennials, skipping right over “us,” is hardly different from the popular kids choosing each other for a high school Homecoming court. (Like we had a shot of being noticed in the first place.)

But today, I’m fine living as a shadow. It’s ok my steps don’t draw attention. Because life isn’t about “me.” Shockingly, it’s not even about “them” – whoever “they” are. I just want to live the rest of this earthly existence in peace. To feel the seasons change, enjoying the crisp smell of snow in February, musty leaves in autumn. And to live among fellow humans who wish for peace, harmony, and enjoyment, too.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

So very many of my fellow Gen Xers truly thought we were on the way to unity, to breaking down borders between us all. And it’s so very hard to open our eyes and see the world we strove to make whole divided, with chasms inserted, all but guaranteeing no easy way back to sanity.

What happened? We have thoughts. And thoughts do nothing to change how the world prefers drama to discipline, chaos to creation.

And it leaves me feeling sad. And turning inward a bit. And so I find myself clawing toward inner peace, for inner peace seems about the only thing that I can have a smidge of control over right now: Peace we’ve done what we can. Peace we will continue to do what we should. Peace in the knowledge we can’t control the actions of others; others who work to disband what many of us worked so hard to mend.

Peace? Yes, inner peace.


Sometimes, the only thing you can control is how you internalize the storm engulfing you. During this storm of sickness, partisanship, and pitting ourselves against one another, I choose to open my eyes and see what’s raging around me. I refuse in reside in any echo chamber, hiding and denying the difficulties we must face. I also refuse to let this chaos take away my core, my inner strength. For at the end of it all, we must live and breathe and choose each step, each breath, in a manner where we will each be at peace within ourselves.

Fellow Gen Xers, I “see” you. Keep working toward unity and healing. And know that you are “seen.” We matter. And yes, a lot of things are downright unloveable right now. But we can continue to create positive change. And so far as our actions (and thoughts) are good, right and just, we should have peace knowing we are doing what we can. Regardless the actions of others. And as long as we know that, we’re going to be ok.


Cover Image by Ajale from Pixabay

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