X Proud: Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

I’m not a Millennial. And I’m not a Baby Boomer. So do I matter at all?

I started asking myself this question after reading “Millennials’ Day Has Come,” a recent story Senior News Editor Matt Swenson (and fellow Gen Xer) posted on this site. The piece discussed the U.S. Census Bureau data findings that Generation Y/Millennials (ages 14-32) now outnumber Baby Boomers (ages 50-68) by 8 million people—and what that means for planners and hoteliers. With boundless chatter in the media about aging Boomers and the consumer habits of Millennials, my Gen X (ages 33-49) compatriots seem to be the demographically forgotten middle child. As the photo above suggests, maybe the reality of the situation does, in fact, bite.

While working on our annual 40 Under 40 feature “Group Dynamics," Swenson’s online post popped into my mind once again, and I noticed for the first time my crowd is getting close to aging out of this, or any, “under 40” list. Our time is almost up! I stressed. Then I started tallying our 40 Under 40 stars and discovered there were 21 Millennials and 19 Gen Xers who made the final cut. They’re already edging us out! I panicked.

After contemplating Gen X’s waning role in the sphere of influence, and a “40 Over 40” feature idea for next year, I decided to slow my roll. Is that our catchphrase or Gen Y’s? I couldn’t remember. Truthfully, there’s a lot of gray area between our generational dividing lines. It occurred to me that instead of wondering if we matter, Gen Xers should be looking at those before us, behind us and beside us for inspiration and new strategies in our work.

Begin with the industry whiz kids on this year’s 40 Under 40 list. Our staff cherry-picked this bright bunch from piles of submissions—and the finalists are sure to wow you with what they’ve accomplished so far in their careers.

We may be small and sandwiched between two bigger crowds, but as Gen X steps into leadership roles across all industries, take a cue from the Baby Boomers before us: Stay relevant, remain on the cutting edge, keep producing content with cross-generational appeal and chill out, man… Everything’s groovy.   

Photo: "Reality Bites" by Entertainment Pictures; Van Redin/Zumapress