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A Nameless, Unlucky Generation

Walking Dog in Snow Gen Xer

Are Gen Xers an Unlucky Generation?

I came across an infographic recently that highlighted food culture statistics for Baby Boomers and Millennials. Much to my surprise — or not — there was zero mention of Generation X. Maybe the food industry doesn’t think we eat.

I’ve been documenting silly slight like this for nearly a decade including contradictions in population and years. Often the years for Boomers and Millennials are expanded to fit a desirable thesis. In 2012 Trinity College conducted a study about Generation X and defined the years we were born as 1965 to 1972. Just seven years. It was the worst example to date of the ever-shrinking years of Generation X.

I’ve pondered this erasure for a long time because every Xer I know thinks he was the only one. The only one who wore a latchkey to school or ran around unsupervised until the street lights came on. The only one who looked after himself while the adults around him chased happiness and recognition. Also, the only one who grew up feeling unsafe. The only one who grew self-reliant to a fault.

Snowy Street Trees Cars

People Walking in the snow across bridge

Snow Sledding Public Park

Unlucky Generation

Gen-Xers were born during one of the most shameless anti-child phases in American history. Over time, we devolved to a nameless generation. X for unknown factor. X for crossed-out and scoured.

Even the demographers couldn’t think of a name for us. In their book, The Fourth Turning, historians William Strauss and Neil Howe labeled us the 13th Generation because of where we fell chronologically. We were given a number deemed too dubious for airport gates and skyscrapers.

It was all too prophetic as we became the unlucky cohort.

Beginning in the 1960s, adults didn’t want to have kids anymore. Boomers managed their unwanted pregnancies with the pill, which was approved in 1960, and abortion, which was legalized in 1973. Numerous bar graphs illustrate how these historic events took a bite out of Generation X.

Generation X Population


We’ve also been unlucky financially. For example, when Baby Boomers went to college, the interest rates on their student loans ranged from 2 to 4 percent, but for Gen Xers, they soared to 8 percent or greater. During the Great Recession, Americans lost more than $16 trillion in wealth. Gen-Xers lost the most at 45 percent.

Generational Center of Gravity

So many things have made Gen-Xers grumpy and contrary. Based on interviews Neil Howe did in the early 1990s, Gen Xers identified early with collective failure. Back then, we felt like a great big nuclear disaster. We were our own three-mile island. And, the X, with its “identity-cloaking effect,” hasn’t helped. While other generations feel pride, Xers still struggle to find a “generational center of gravity.” (Source: Neil Howe, Forbes, August 2014.)

Understanding your time and place in history is paramount to discovering your purpose in this life. It can’t be rubbed out by marketing tactics or effaced by 80 million Millennials or 78 million Baby Boomers. It can’t be reversed by the people who didn’t want you or left you.

You are not the broken people, the broken homes, or the broken generations that came before you.

Although your arrival may not have been celebrated like it should have been, rest assured that on the day you were born you were cherished by the Living God, by the Father of Lights from whom all good things come. He did not give you a spirit of fear on that glorious day – your birthday! He gave you a spirit of love and power. As he knit you together in the womb, he equipped you for the hardships and battles you would face. And, now, from sorrow and rejection come spiritual advantages you can use to heal the world.

No more latchkeys or anti-child phase. No more neglected middle child of history. You have been called out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.

No more latchkeys and no ore anti-child phase. No more neglected middle child of history. You have been called out of darkness and into God’s marvelous light.

If you believe history involves cycles that repeat themselves, we face several more years on troubled seas. But, eventually, Generation X will enter halcyon days and that is where we’ll grow old.

This my friends will feel like the greatest irony of all.

Robert Gen Xer Generation X

And I can tell by the way you’re searching
For something you can’t even name
That you haven’t been able to come to the table
Simply glad that you came

And when you feel like this try to imagine
That we’re all like frail boats on the sea
Just scanning the night for that great guiding light
Announcing the jubilee

(Mary Chapin Carpenter)

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Anonymous

    Honestly..I think that alot of boomer who got married and /or had kids really shouldn’t have..getting married and having kids I believe was more of a social construct rather than a personal decision…its not for everyone…but back then you were just “supposed to”…get married before that big 25…have those kids…otherwise people might look at you funny…then regret it…nowadays it seems to be more of a personal decision…people are getting married sometimes as late as 50 or not at all…not everyone has children…and if its not right for them they shouldn’t…

    • Steve

      Completely disagree that society is “better off” with optional marriage and declining rates of married families. Its a normal social organizational unit, and was so for thousands of years. Thats why society is so messed today. We need to get back to the two parent married family unit.

  2. Cara

    Born in ’74 I’ve felt “lost” for so long. Most keenly in my career. It took me years to finally get a promotion after all the boomers have retired. I had to claw up past the millenials who are vying to take over. But it’s the few Xers that do all the work and now have all the valuable experience. Unfortunately, experience now isn’t as valued. We just can’t win!

    I’m so happy to have found you…on Pinterest for no real reason…during the corona virus social isolation…and viola there’s this place that describes my childhood to a T! All these memories coming back.

    Do you remember those sandals that had the hole in the heel? I think they were “termites” from Buster Brown??? Those were my favorite wedge sandals the summer when I was about 10.

    I can’t wait to read all your posts!

    • Jennifer

      Hello, Cara!! I’m so glad you found your way here. I need to be better about promoting the blog on social networks. I was once very active on Pinterest, but it takes so much energy. I wish I had more time to post. I understand what you’re saying about your career experience. It mirrors that of so many Gen-Xers. I still believe the best is yet to be for Generation X. Maybe that is just my prayer.

      I do remember the sandals and now I’m off to see if I can find some pictures of them in my photography collection! I have so many vintage pics of Gen-X that I’ve still left to post. Have a great day. Stay safe in the pandemic!

  3. Jennie

    From one of the many Gen-X Jennifers to another – Hello. I found your blog looking for more information on Mother Mary Undoer of Knots. I’ve had many in my life lately, and the Holy Spirit introduced me to her a few months back. I’m looking forward to reading more. I was an anomaly, as my parents were never divorced, and my mom shunned the feminists and was a stay-at-home mom until I was in my teens. But, I agree, we have been forgotten in the Boomer/Millennial sandwich. The thin Kraft Single between the Wonder Bread. Ha ha. Thank you for your words of hope and inspiration.

    • Jennifer

      haha! That’s a good one. “The thin Kraft single between the Wonder bread.” And, that’s “pasteurized prepared cheese product.” LOL!

      On another note, Mother Mary is the undoer of knots. She brought me an amazing miracle in 2017. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I love her forever, our Holy Queen, mother of our Lord. Thank you for stopping by. It means a lot. Also, I love the way you spell Jennie. That’s how my dad spelled it. It’s what he called me…

  4. Angela

    Came across this post while doing some soul searching as my generation enters its middle age years. Thanks for sharing your thoughts online, Jennifer. That’s what I love about good writing–the communication you have with folks across the way, the generations, the time space continuum! Yes, I too have often felt “self-reliant to a fault”. Geez, I think I’ve been doing the boot-strap-pulling-up for so long I no longer have any boot straps. It will be very interesting to see how things play out for the different generations. And I’ve also noticed in many print articles, news shows, even TV commercials that we are perpetually invisible. The baby boomers are entering their senior years now so all the drug companies gear their ads towards that group. All the newly gentrified cities are building and reconstructing their tired old neighborhoods to draw in the new millennial generations. I just don’t remember any particular marketing aimed at acquiring folks of my ilk when I was millennial aged. I think MTV might have been the only one. I do cherish the music, John Hughes films, and our brilliant masters of comedy. We do love and know a hectare about pop culture! Growing up with the television and in the shadows of the party people baby boomers gave us a particular edge I think. Anyway, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your posts. Thanks for the thoughts and the kind words in these crazy times.

    • Jennifer

      Hello Angie – I had a dear friend in junior high named Angie Cooper. I always wondered what happened to her. She was a devout Christian. She challenged me. Anyway, I don’t remember the big marketing programs or efforts toward Generation X either. I echo your sentiments. Often it feels like we’ve been skipped over and passed on. But, we’re still here and we will be for a few more decades. I hope I can make the most of it. I enjoyed your comment so much and the validation it provides. I hope you’ll stop back by again, soon, although I don’t seem to be able to blog much these days. I loved all the John Hughes films so much, especially Ferris Bueller.

  5. Lilian

    I was scouring the internet and came upon your site. The Generation X mention made me stop to browse through the writings. I found your writings on point. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Keith Clarke

    I love this – “We were given a number deemed too dubious for airport gates and skyscrapers”

    But I think that sense of irony is what gives us Gen X’ers our resolve and sense of humour. I have been doing a lot of research and reading about us recently, and there is an air of darkness and sadness that hangs over us. When I used to think back superficially about my upbringing I thought of shiny 80’s pop songs and MTV. I forgot about the ‘dark’ element. We actually had it quite tough.

    I suppose that’s what we have always done though. We start from where we are and we get on with it. We are a strong, loyal and resourceful bunch really. And without doubt, we have brought most of the best comedians into the world with our cynicsm and irony as a result.

    I think for Gen X we are coming into our time now. It’s going to be interesting to watch what we do with it

    I enjoyed the post, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing

    • Keith Clarke

      No problem, Jennifer.

      I will be watching your journey avidly here and on Facebook 😉


  7. Chloe Koffas

    Beautiful post, Jen.
    Thanks for writing this.

  8. Brett

    Very nice!

  9. Andrew W. Griffin

    As an Xer born in 1972 I feel this. It’s a sense of not belonging. The Cusp Generation, maybe? I’m proud to be part of Gen X because it makes us try that much harder and I like a good challenge. Great post and great pictures.


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