Written By: Leslie Means
I have three older sisters who are my senior by two, 11 and 13 years. Because of the age gap, there also is a generation gap. My two oldest sisters grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. My sister Lindsay and I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s. Throw in my parents, who are children of the ’50s and ’60s, and we have an interesting family dynamic.
We grew up during different eras. There’s a good chance each one of us would say our era was best.
I’m usually not bothered by arguments about who grew up during the best years. I know in my heart that the ’90s can’t be beat. What bothers me is the comment, “You wouldn’t understand. You grew up in a different time. Someday you’ll get it.”
Those words always come from the older generations. When I hear someone tell me I’m too young to understand I usually smile and swallow my pride before I let my loud mouth run.
But something happened this week. It was something I wasn’t expecting. I found out my generation is now the group spewing the words, “You just don’t understand.”
Here are a few quotes I heard from the thirtysomethings this week:
“What is it with that nasty neon color students are wearing? We drove by UNK tonight and all the kids were in crazy shorts!”
“Try walking in the mall. The shoes are the most ridiculous colors ever! What is it with kids these days? They have no taste!”
“The ‘good old days’ are gone. All the awesome drinks and style have gone out the window.”
“These kids have never lived in a world without computers. They have never seen a pay phone either!”
“Kids these days don’t understand responsibility!”
I also heard one that targeted the older generation.
“My hands were full! I had my pop in one arm, my child in the other and these two old ladies just shut the door behind me. They must think our generation doesn’t work hard enough so they take it out on us!”
Most of these comments made me laugh, especially when I heard the words “kids these days” coming out of 30-year-old mouths. Weren’t we just kids? Wouldn’t the older generations say we still are kids?
And then it happened. Something I’ve been fighting since I was a teen. Maybe I was poked by all the comments earlier in the week or maybe I just got fed up with trying to be young in a generation that is getting older by the day.
I said something. They were words that I have been avoiding for the past 15 years: “Oh honey, you have no idea what tired really means.”
I couldn’t help it. This recent college graduate tried to tell me how exhausted she was, how hard she had been working. I found no sympathy in her words. Instead I found them to be laughable.
“Tired is taking care of two little girls while working full time. I know tired. Your situation can’t possibly compare,” I thought. “You are so young and can’t possibly understand.”
Her reaction was familiar, something I had seen before. When I saw the half smile and heard silence, I knew she was kindly keeping her mouth shut but cursing me under her breath.
I knew because I did the same thing days earlier when the grouchy old ladies wouldn’t open the door for me.
It’s a vicious cycle. Each generation will continue to think they worked harder, played better, stood taller and looked prettier than all the others before and behind them. Truth is we all did the best we could during the era we grew up. Each generation is different. Each generation is known for something unique. Each generation is strong.
But no generation can compare to the ’90s. If you grew up in a different era, you can’t possibly understand.
What is your favorite generation and why? Here’s a little taste of my generation just in case you missed it!