As the middle child of my family, I know a little something about being “in the middle”. You aren’t the oldest, the first child to accomplish things, creating those benchmarks that the rest of the kids need to reach for. You’re also not the youngest, who tends to need the most attention and is coined the baby of the family. You’re just … well … in the middle.
As the middle child you learn not to make waves. You’re often the peacemaker of the family. You are also the most astute. You hear things. You learn things. You know how to blend. You are the keeper of “information” and your sibs know this, so you’re an asset. Being the middle child is kind of like learning to be a spy. I wonder how many CIA agents were middle children?
I have the advantage of not only being a middle child, but I also belong to a special generation of human beings who were born between 1977 and 1983. This micro-generation is known as the “Xennial” generation. If you were born in this time period, you might feel what I have felt. That we are not really 100% a Gen X’er nor totally a Millennial. I have traits of both, but don’t quite fit the description of either, so you sort of straddle both generations. When asked “which generation do you belong to”, you never really know how to answer. That’s because you are a Xennial!
Xennials are our own, special generation with our own identity. We are sometimes referred to as the “Oregon Trail Generation”. Whatever name you choose to give us, there are reasons why this mid-generation is sometimes called the luckiest generation. Here’s why:
We are the first generation who did not grow up with computers in our everyday life. We remember what it was like before computers, and we clearly remember the first time we had an actual computer in our home. I think the first computer my parents bought was a Comcast? It was very expensive and there were lots of rules around using it. We were not allowed to eat near it, have a drink by it, or even sneeze over it. I am smiling as I am looking at my leftover dinner and my evening drink sitting precariously close to my laptop right now. Sorry, Mom.
We had a few games that came on hard discs – which are now called Floppy Discs, but to me a Floppy Disc was actually much larger and was floppy! Even now when a reference is made to a Floppy Disc I think of something entirely different than those younger than me do. Anyway, I had a few games I enjoyed playing like “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and “Wheel of Fortune”.
I also remember the first time I chose to type out and print an essay for school. I was so proud to have done this and thought my teacher would be really impressed. She was not. I was handed back my neatly typed pages and told to hand write my essay that night and bring it back the next day. My teacher informed me that she was not accepting typed and printed essays. How did she know that I actually wrote it? Can you imagine this response today? I can’t even remember the last time my kids had to write out an essay, other than through a standardized test, by hand.
Another great trait of a typical Xennial is that we are usually the best conversationalists and have amazing interpersonal skills. We didn’t grow up with social media. We had to actually speak to one another through in-person conversations so we know how to communicate much better, and clearer than others who grew up in a texting, short hand society.
With the birth of social media, and with our innate understanding of how people tick, we generally are much better at marketing and understand how to use social media effectively. We also possess the power of persuasion. Because of this, we tend to be more direct in our conversations and say exactly what we are thinking. The good thing is, you will always know where you stand with a Xennial.
I don’t know about you, but I had my first actual cell phone when I was in my early 20’s, as did most Xennials. I do remember a few friends having a pager when I was in high school, but no one had a cell phone. My first cell phone was a pre-paid tracphone. If you didn’t keep the minutes on it current, your phone number would change when you finally did purchase more. This happened to me a lot, I barely used my tracphone. For those of you much younger who can’t understand how this can happen, phones used to only make calls back then. No texts. No internet. No email or apps. Just calls.
Another Xennial trait is that we tend to adapt easily to any situation. Change does not bother us. We welcome it, and often we are usually the first to call for it. We are inclusive and we can usually get along with anyone. This may be because we belong to more than one generation ourselves, so we can easily shift our thinking. This makes us really great work colleagues, and also good at conflict management.
Don’t get me wrong, if you are a middle child then you deal with some baggage. You likely suffer from “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” syndrome, are constantly trying to prove yourself to others, and are fiercely independent. In addition, as the token peacemaker, you often find yourself in the middle of situations you probably shouldn’t be.
I really want to know how many middle children work for the CIA, or maybe in law enforcement? And how many Xennials work in marketing or sales? I need to know if my theory is correct.
Regardless, if you happen to be lucky enough to be a Xennial, as well as the middle child in your family, then you have some serious powers working for you – use them for good and make a difference in the world!