The Plight of Gen-X Workers

If I May

Gen-X workers have long suffered a career version of middle child syndrome – a condition that has only worsened since our forebears broke the implied work-world contract. 

Let’s just say it. Boomers were supposed to retire and relinquish the keys to the corporate kingdom. That was the deal. That’s always been the deal. Instead, they squandered their savings, extended their work life, and embroiled themselves in an endless war for relevancy with those pesky Millennials, the only generation to try and distance themselves from themselves—older Millennials, my ass. 

The skirmish has since expanded to include the Gen Z corporate kids who long to exchange their participation trophies for C-suite titles. Watching the trio argue over a prize we’ve discovered to be essentially meaningless is simultaneously gratifying and exhausting.

As Gen-Xers begin to flip the odometer on the big 5-oh, we face the dual challenges of ageism and salary pricing pressure, which combine to squeeze us from our seats. We’d complain, but we’re more prone to snark than snivels. So we’ll just sit back and watch the shit show…for a while, anyway.   

Ultimately, we’re action-oriented fixers. To remedy this nonsensical twist of fate, we’ll do what we’ve always done ­­– leverage our latch-key kid independent streak and sprint down one of three roads:

  1. Outshine our generational competitors with a brute-force work ethic.
  2. Consult in our chosen profession.
  3. Take a left and start something new.

Many of my brethren find they have the optimal blend of energy, experience, and savings to walk roads two or three.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the generational bookends if the small but mighty middle heads for the exit. Maybe Gen Z will slide smoothly into the corner office and render the rest of us irrelevant. Perhaps the boomers will forever retain the reins of power. It won’t matter to us. We’re scrappy. And we’ll do just fine.  

Tim Toterhi is a husband and dad based in North Carolina. He writes write philosophical fiction and snarky humor. Read more at www.TimToterhi.com

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