Xennials is a new term coined by Sarah Stankorb. It’s a micro-generation of people born between 1977 and 1985.
I think a lot of Xennials were frustrated that they were clumped in with Millennials. We didn’t have all the privileges and perks of Millennials. I think it’s fair to say that most of us feel that we were the last of the Mahicans.
For one, we didn’t have social media to vent to. And our parents probably would be in jail for beating us after calling the cops on them and posting about it on Facebook. Quite frankly, to join Facebook, you had to have an “.edu” email address which meant we were not introduced to online profiles until we were in college around our 20’s. Even then, we used social media to connect with students on campus, find out who was in our classes and where the next big party was occurring. We still talked to our friends in person and were very social beings. We were the last group who actually played outside and rode our bikes together to the creek to catch goldfish and crawdads.
Even the use of MySpace was educational. We couldn’t just upload pictures; you had to learn HTML and Java to create your cool, fancy page with gifs, different fonts and neat formats. On most social media platforms today, this is done for you and all you must do is hit the upload button to document your next move in life and air out your dirty laundry.
We didn’t have cell phones either. I for one, did not get a cell phone until I went to college at age 18. It was a silver MotoRazr cell phone with black and white capabilities, no color. Snake was my favorite game to play. You still had to hit A-B-C to text and there weren’t a ton of convenient apps. We were introduced to computers and technology around age 6 in first grade. Now, Millennials are born with high-tech tablets thrown in their faces by age 1. They already know how to pose for selfies by age 2. Meanwhile, our parents were focused on making sure we could walk and talk correctly as most of us are chastised by our proper English and grammar skills unlike kids today.
We had to learn how to write in print and cursive and take typing courses. You only used shorthand if you were a Pharmacy Technician. It was important that we understood both English and Mathematics to the greatest extent. We were only allowed to use our calculators for complex Algebra, Geometry and Finite problems. We had to use our brains to think. We used the encyclopedia and books for information. We didn’t have Wiki and sites that would basically write our papers. We had to learn how to cite our sources by hand and couldn’t just plug and chug them into a computer app. We had to learn how to write research papers, resumes and figure out our career personality before we went to college.
We were lied to as well. That’s the major difference to me along with our parents authoritative parenting styles. We were all told that we must go to college to make money so we don’t flip burgers at Burger King and McDonald’s. I’m sure all Xennials heard that line almost daily in elementary school. Meanwhile, there are some college degree’d Xennials who make the same amount of money as McDonald’s workers. We were told the only way to success was by being scammed by college institutions. Because trust me, college is a business to make money. Sure, you learn an education, but it is not the only way to become successful. Millennials are learning the powerful advantage of being entrepreneurs. For us, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey were anomalies that we thought were impossible to attain. That is not the case today as Millennials see Donald Trump in office with no real credibility to be President. College-dropouts are becoming millionaires while our $50,000+ education barely affords us a $40,000 salary.
Most importantly, our parents were our parents and not our friends. We still had landlines so nine times out of ten, you spoke to someone’s parent with respect before you talked to your friend. And if you didn’t come correct, you heard a dial tone before the phone was passed off. We didn’t get to talk past 9:00 p.m. and we certainly weren’t accessible by cell phone, so you better be obedient and be home for dinner and homework. Our parents worried about our safety not because we would be shot by policemen, but because they couldn’t contact us at the drop of a dime and prayed they instilled positive morals in us to display when they were not around. We didn’t have the option to copulate whenever we wanted to. I couldn’t even TALK to boys on the phone until I was 16, let alone have a so-called boyfriend. I mean what was that to a female teenager? But look at me now, 33 with a husband and no children. I thank my mother for protecting her daughter and son from predators.
But the one thing our parents failed us on was believing that hard work always leads to success because many of us learned from college debt, that is not always the case. Networking can get you further ahead than a Master’s degree. That’s the harsh reality Xennials are faced with today. We also didn’t understand white privilege like we should have. We were taught equality and not the reality that it does exist and that we have to work harder for a reason. This isn’t a racist spew, this is the reality for Xennial minorities who hit the workforce and never get that promotion because they prefer their natural hair and don’t want to hang out with Susie after work.
Which leads me to my last and final point. We didn’t get to have slumber parties with everyone. We could only make friends with people our parents approved of. Which in the long run tarnished our value system of relationships in the workplace. Unfortunately, in corporate America, you have to learn how to befriend everyone regardless of their values, lifestyle and morals if you want to get ahead. It’s those parties we hate to go to and get tipsy around our bosses that lead us to not hear about the next promotion as my good friend explained. It’s that manager who has no value system at all who is in charge of your promotion. It’s that inexperienced intern who will get the job because her father’s father used to work with your CEO. Our parents should have allowed us to hangout and party more often so we learned how to conduct ourselves properly, but also learn to be ourselves without their direction. Now, many of us, especially women, are dinged because we are too professional and only associate ourselves in business affairs so we come off as too rigid.
So, I say to you Xennials, let your hair down, get your work done, but network like it’s nobody’s business. Learn to conduct yourself professionally, but don’t forget to be friendly. It’s okay to befriend your co-workers although our parents told us to never mix business with pleasure. It’s one of the reasons why we are not getting promoted with our shiny degrees; we are not approachable. And if you have a skill, turn it into money and become an entrepreneur. Trust me, Millennials get that part. I hope this helps someone understand why it’s so frustrating to be called a Millennial when you are not. Xennials are the last of a dying breed.