Have you ever felt stuck between two generations?
Are you a Xennial? If you are, you probably already know because you’re staunchly holding on to that moniker until someone pries it from your cold lifeless hands. If you're not a Xennial then you’re probably wondering what one is and why do they care so much about the distinction. Xennials are a microgeneration born between Gen X and millennials, you may remember them as Gen Y but much like the generation itself, somewhere along the way that was dropped and forgotten. They're uncomfortably straddling two generations with one foot planted in both, yet somehow not fitting anywhere.
The span of years that Xennials were born is 1977-1983 but there’s some infighting on where the cut-off should be. It all comes down to how you grew up and when regular exposure to technology came into your life, and whether it was through you or through your friends. Chances are if you don’t remember computers before they were full color, then you were likely born after the cut-off. Xennials' parents rarely knew where they were, as they didn’t have cell phones or pagers as kids and they were babysitting by the age of 8.
Xennials' Gen X siblings supervised them as closely as they were supervised: from a distance, far far away. I know because I am one. We were the Oregon Trail generation—we died of dysentery and drank from the water hose because coming in for water meant you had to stay inside. Google was not yet a thing when we were in high school. We had to Ask Jeeves.
My childhood was vastly different from my clearly millennial husband’s. When I saw that someone decided people born in my birth year were considered geriatric millennials, I was having none of it. So I did the very #Millennial thing of posting to social media to demand that Merriam-Webster stop dallying and finally add Xennial to the dictionary. Turns out I wasn’t alone in my frustration, the responses proved we really are just a generation wandering around confused.
One poster, Becca Zibung Mosier, responded, “1980 here and I’ll die on this hill with you!!!” Another, Jessica Morgan, accurately captured the insanity of being a member of a microgeneration saying, “Yesssss! I’ve always FELT more GenX (‘78), but at the same time not completely. This is perfect!”
Commenter Shane Millsom broke down the general chaos that is the Xennial existence by pointing out that we started high school with encyclopedias and card catalogs but came of age with the internet and cell phones. He noted that we were raised with old-school morals but were the first generation since the industrial revolution not to become wealthier than our parents. Millsom also wrote that we were raised to be environmentalists but have a healthy dose of skepticism, and observed that like Gen Xers, we love straight no-nonsense answers, but we accept everyone as equals like millennials.
The passion in Millsom's comment captures everything Xennials feel. We were raised to believe we could conquer the world with a college education and hard work ethic, then were quickly disillusioned when student loan bills came rolling in. We in-betweeners are just that—in between. Xennials encompass the best of two generations and that’s not a bad thing, we embrace it.
I'm still impatiently waiting on Merriam-Webster to give us this one. Don’t make me start a petition.