What's this all about?
This is our thinking behind our tagline: Gen X Startup* Families Surviving the American Dream.
We sound really specific about our target audience in our tagline, so you may be wondering what we mean when we talk about Gen X Startup* Families Surviving the American Dream, and if you fit in at all (chances are, you do). Here's the deeper meaning behind all of it.
Leslie and I are both late-Gen X, and our little pocket generation's experience is unique, especially with regard to technology. We're the first generation (of middle class white/white-adjacent kids, anyway) who can pretty much guarantee we won't ever see a pension like our parents get; we'll be working til we die.
We are no strangers to startups (we are working on a new one right now), and we came of working age in the tech startup boom. But in our tagline it represents the hustle anyone around our age is doing. Few of us are strangers to switching jobs multiple times in our careers, sudden layoffs, and a serious lack of financial security. Entrepreneur or not, you know the stress of the hustle.
We're a family of 6 (counting the dog), and we talk a lot about parenting and kid stuff. But we're also Gen X, which means we learned a long time ago that our closest family is the one we make. So, it doesn't matter if you're single, married, kid-free, whatever. No matter your relationship to the people who birthed you, whoever you've gathered into your heart is a family - even if that's just you learning to love yourself. And you're welcome in the Glimmering family as well.
Surviving the American Dream
Put simply: life hasn't turned out like the shiny brochure. There's more in the links below about how this impacts Gen X specifically. But I think we can all relate to this:
The Oregon Trail Generation is the best discussion of a late-Xer's childhood and young adult experience with technology that I've found.
A big part of what makes us the square peg in the round hole of named generations is our strange relationship with technology and the Internet. We came of age just as the very essence of communication was experiencing a seismic shift, and it’s given us a unique perspective that’s half analog old school and half digital new school.
"We Were't That Resilient" speaks to the complex trauma our generation (this is what makes us unique) has chosen to unpack in our adulthoods, so we don't keep perpetuating these wrongs against our own kids.
And it got pretty Lord of the Flies out there in the neighborhood and schoolyards before the streetlights came on and no adults were watching. In fact, when the good adults weren’t watching, a lot of bad adults got away with some bullshit. Many in my generation would like you to believe we just rubbed dirt on the pain and got over it. Trauma doesn’t work that way, and no we didn’t.
We are the generation most affected by the dot-com bubble bursting in 2001, and were most decimated by 2008's Great Recession, because we'd already begun walking down the path of our parents' mythic American Dream. We lost our houses, our jobs, our life savings. We haven't recovered.
I remember the number of foreclosures that devastated Gen X, especially in the Black community. Folks who just bought their starter home were facing foreclosure. Friends who hoped to receive promotions and leadership development were instead let go and forced to take any job that would put food on the table. The American Dream, as it were, was unraveling under their feet. It is a particular grief of having everything ripped away. A grieving that deserved more time and attention than it has received.
And now we are having our midlife crises.
Other research suggests that women's happiness bottoms out around 40; men's, around 50. (Maybe that's another reason the female experience isn't much discussed: By the time men start thinking about these issues, women seem unaffected, but only because they've already been through it.)
Midlife is when we need to take care of everyone else while we are our most tired, to trust ourselves when we're most filled with doubt. What makes it worse is that many of our midlife fears are well founded. We may, in fact, die alone. Our marriages may never improve. We may never get the number of kids we hoped for. We may never save enough money to make the retirement calculators stop screaming. We may never do a fraction of what we thought we would do in our career.
So, clearly we need to band together and help each other out - just like we've been doing since we were roaming the neighborhoods as latchkey kids. Stick around, friends; we'll get ourselves some cookies and then take on the world.
(If you're the cool older friend who can drive us places, or the spunky little kid trying to keep up, you're more than welcome here, too.)