My Birthday Present to Me (And You)

October 2023
Written By: 
Ashley Daniels
Photographs by: 
courtesy of shutterstock Ashley Daniels

Why Gen X is The Next Greatest Generation

Gen Xers ride the bridge between analog and digital. And if you recognize the yellow device above, congrats, you’re one of us.

If you were born between 1965 and 1980, congratulations! You are a member of Gen X, or what I am calling “The Next Greatest Generation” and you join me and 65.2 million fellow Gen Xers in the United States.

As I turn 48 in November (birthdate of November 28, 1975, to be exact), I’m reminded of why Gen X deserves this title despite being the generation that is often overlooked. Pssst… Baby Boomers and Millennials.

Here’s my breakdown:

Stuck in the Middle with You. While Baby Boomers and Millennials are two vastly different generations, Gen X proudly stands in the middle as a bridge to both. We are fluent in both the analog and digital worlds (rotary phone to iPhone). We are like the ingredients in the middle of the sandwich that holds everything together. We understand both the Boomers’ values and the Millennials’ worldview. And we understand a broader timeline of terms and references, from, “You sound like a broken record” to “That’s drip.”

Me (above, left) circa late 1980s holding my boom box Christmas gift. And me (to the right) standing in the back left cheerleading in the 1980s with a turtleneck and skirt down to my knees!

We Survived Boredom. Before the Internet, mobile phones, and electronic devices, Gen X accepted that a 12-hour car ride to Disney World meant staring out the window to play “I Spy,” reading a book, or listening to our mixed tapes on a WalkMan. And that’s not just in the car, but also quiet spells at school, like study hall, or at home, which leads me to…

We Grew Up Outside. No, we weren’t raised by wolves outside, but we played outside—a lot.

So much so that we’d bike down the street to the neighbors—maybe even a few miles away in the next neighborhood—and play pickup softball or tag all day, without a single check-in with Mom, (Remember, no smartphones and no Life360 tracking app for parent and child), drank water from a hose, and did it again the next day. But it was a safer world back then, and I hate that I have to put more safety restrictions in place for my Gen Z sons.

We Have a Sense of Independence. As latchkey kids, self-reliance is practically innate. No one would get us off the bus after school, we’d lock the front door, and we would be at home alone and unsupervised until Mom and Dad got home from work. This meant we made a snack for ourselves, we started homework by ourselves, which meant research papers done from encyclopedias or other books signed out of the school library, and we started on any chores. This all built into Gen X both a true sense of independence and the spirit of community.

We Have Respect. Without question, we were engrained with the command to respect our elders: that’s our parents, grandparents, older relatives, adult teachers, leaders, and coaches.

Backtalk was not acceptable—and online rants on social media didn’t exist. (Thank the Lord.)

We Had the Best Music and Movies. I know each generation will disagree, but, c’mon, how many TV shows, movies, and music hits today are blasting back to the ’80s style because it’s so amazing? It’s when so many things in the entertainment industry was born! Gen Xers overall grew up at a musical crossroads, exposed to everything from classic rock, metal, and rock, to pop, jazz, hip-hop, house, country, and more. We were the first MTV generation and were the first to watch some of the best films out there in the movie theatre, with some of these blockbusters still making sequels today. Think “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones,” “Top Gun,” and more.

Please note: I’m not writing this View from Here to bash the other generations of readers. You can agree to disagree. I’m writing this to remind fellow Gen Xers all the good that we bring to the plate from our upbringing to today’s mindset.