THE BLOG
09/26/2012 01:50 pm ET Updated Nov 26, 2012

A Letter to Generation X

Dear Generation X (that's you if you were born from the years of 1965-1980),

I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Tiff. She graduated with a degree in Psychology from Rosemont College three years ago. Graduating, with honors, and (if I do say so) a stellar GPA, she got a job right after graduation.

In tune with her degree she accepted a position at a shelter for battered young women.

Everyday Tiff, woke up (probably grabbed coffee) went to work, was scratched, beaten up, berated and then left. Seven months and (what feels like) a million panic attacks later, she had to leave in order to keep her sanity.

Tiff realized that she wanted to love what she was doing as much as she loved the money she was making.

When I've told people who are classified as Generation X this story, I usually get different responses, but all have the same final points: 1) money talks, 2) work is a mindset and 3) whatever it is you are doing keep grinding away at it even if you hate it.

I'll take a rain check on the hating my job part #sorryimnotsorry.

The first few times I told people the story, I was horrified at the responses that I got back. That's pretty much because when she told me her story, my inner work self was proud of her for leaving something stable to sever something toxic.

I happened to be talking to another friend about how surprised I was at the reactions of my elders. He told me: "it's a generational thing, people before us were grinders, and we are seekers." I really wanted to be able to call him on his bullshit. But truth be told, it does boil down to a very serious generational difference.

According to Psychology Today:

Generation X (born 1965-1980) accept diversity; they are skeptical, pragmatic and practical, self-reliant, independent and individualistic; they reject authoritarianism and control; they were latchkey children and separate friends from family. They like a casual, friendly work environment, seek challenge, involvement and flexible learning arrangements. Work-life balance and family priorities are very important to Gen Xers.

Psychology Today describes Generation Y (born 1981-1999) in the follolwing way:

[They] celebrate diversity; they are optimistic, inventive and individualistic; they rewrite the rules; they enjoy a pleasurable lifestyle; they don't see the relevance of most institutions; they are masters of technology and social media; were nurtured by their parents; see friends as family; like a collaborative supportive work environment and interactive work relationships; have high demands and expectations; want to work for companies that are socially responsible and they want a balanced life.

There was a point when people would say to me, "She should just get over it, school is in the past she has to do this for a few decades," and chuckle to themselves.

I've realized now, that you (Generation X) aren't being heartless, your just hard-wired to feel that work is work and play is play and the two shall never intersect. That I can tell you isn't what our generation has been striving for.

Why else do you think most new marketing campaigns are via social media? We like to use it, so why not integrate it at work? Then maybe we will #GASP like work.

Sometimes (it feels) that your generation wants to be able to complain about work. We hear it all the time, how late you had to be there, how hard you had to work, how many miles you had to walk to school, yadda yadda yadda... We will work hard, but if we can find an easier way, let's do it! Easy doesn't always mean lazy, sometimes it means striving for innovation.

Then if we can love what we're doing, well hell, that is even better.

I'd just love for you to be open-minded enough to not judge us (the Generation Y'ers). We may not grind, we will probably have a thousand questions and it may frequently seem like our priorities are not in order. But just because we don't have the exact same mindset as (the majority) of your generation doesn't mean that we won't get things done.

It means we seek for a different way.

Thanks so much for your time,

Generation Y'ers
(Or at least just Elizabeth Krupka)

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