Several posts back I wrote about the competitive nature my fellow Gen X peers and I seem to have when comparing our financial woes (Bragonomics). It was written 3 months ago, and the incident that inspired it was 3 months prior to that.
Since then, I’ve seen a shift in the discussions among us. Continued economic downslides and family crises have lessened the novelty of the recession. It’s no longer a fascinating time in history that is affecting us for a short while; it is now some serious muck we’re mired in. We’ve shifted from gabbing about it over drinks to internalizing our stressors quietly, especially the effects they are having on us.
A few days ago the author of the site are you there god? it's me, generation X (http://www.jenx67.com/) wrote:
“Gen X is said to be the most neglected generation in American history. The experts say the Gen X childhood and teen years were marked by profound loneliness (all those cartoons, all that cereal), and followed by an even lonelier, more stressful adulthood (the worst recession in 75 years; booms and busts, and oh, BTW, how am I going to pay for my kids’ college education?) Of course, nobody will admit to being lonely or stressed on Twitter.”
JenX, let me profess loud and clear, I AM LONELY AND STRESSED.
And I know my friends are, too. I read it in their Facebook posts, even when they try to disguise it.
I try not to whine. I know everyone is going through multiple issues in their lives. Mine are no worse than theirs, but they are MINE. I have a stack of medical bills (even with insurance!), a job I’ve outgrown but can’t break free from, graduate school studies, two family members with serious health conditions, and a bank account that never seems to get out of the kiddy pool. My house is worth $30,000 less than what I owe on it. Likewise, my friends are facing unemployment, foreclosure, bankruptcy, infertility, divorce, children with learning disabilities, parents with Alzheimer’s, cancer.... Some of them are dealing with 3 or 4 of these things all at once. For all our efforts to be responsible, productive adults, we’re feeling like the punching bag generation.
Gen X-ers still have a strong sense of self reliance despite what older generations might say. We want to make it on our own, to be successful and comfortable through our efforts. But unlike our parents and grandparents, our sense of pride is different. We’re not above admitting when we’re on a losing streak. But at the same time, we don’t want to appear weak, as if we can’t handle what life throws at us.
We want to lean on each other, but we don’t want to be a burden, even emotionally. We want to encourage our friends when they’re dejected, but some days we can barely hold up our own heads up. It’s hard to inspire others when you’ve lost your own faith. But we hope for and rejoice in bits of good news in anyone’s life as it gives us a glimmer of hope that something in this world is going to turn for the better.
Not Alone, But Still Lonely
I have a loving husband and wonderful friends whom I can count on for levity. My Facebook page is a portal across the miles to friends past and present. Thank goodness for those daily doses of baby pictures and corny jokes. They divert me from my stress for brief moments. Yet, I feel lonely.
I’m lonely for a time and place where my paycheck was more than enough.
I’m lonely for friends who are always in a good mood because their lives are all falling into place.
I’m lonely for friends whose eyes don’t well up when I ask how everything is going, even though they say “pretty good.”
I’m lonely for the babies my friends realize they will never have.
I don’t have the answers yet. I don’t know how we’re going to get through all this. I know we will, because we’re resilient. But in the moment we’re mentally bruised, and tired, and struggling.
What are you lonely for?