Gen Xers: Leveling Up At 50

            I awoke this morning to start my daily routine. Before my daily study time began, I was scanning news feeds to see if anything happened during the night that may have been of any importance to me, and this article caught my eye. I smiled a bit as I read it. Last night, during the airing of the Oscars, AARP aired an advertisement geared at getting Gen Xers to enroll. I thought to myself, “I’m a Gen Xer. I’ll be 50 in six more years.” Six years will be here with a snap of the fingers when you think about it. My wife and I have been married for six years. It doesn’t seem like it. But as I’ve chewed on it all day before writing this piece, I don’t dread it. I kind of look at it as leveling up.

            That’s one of the characteristics of Gen Xers. We don’t see ourselves as growing old—maybe seasoned or wiser for our experiences, but not old. After all, think about it, we never got to see two of the biggest stars of the 90s grow old or even burn out, Kurt Cobain or Tupac Shakur, both died in their prime. We were kids raised by MTV. The real MTV, not 16 and pregnant MTV. Computers and the internet were in their infancy, and the sound of dial-up was exciting. Y2K was the dawning of our adulthood as we entered our 20’s and 30’s. And September the 11th was our generation’s Pearl Harbor, our call to fight.

I don’t know, but that guy on the left looks like the singer for the Foo Fighters, only younger
Tupac Shakur

            I find it crazy that I don’t see myself as old. When my Mom and Dad were my age, they looked old to me. I don’t see my peers as old either. I believe that is because Gen Xers have found that balance between work and life. Where our baby boomer parents threw themselves into work and never did anything else seemingly, my peers and I maintained a healthy lifestyle and stayed active well into our 30’s.

Leveling up at 50

            As I stair down 50, I look forward to that decade of my life. As a matter of fact, I’ve already started planning for it. We’ll see if these plans pan out, but if they don’t, I’ll still be good. My message to all Gen Xers is to look at turning 50 as leveling up. Look at it as going from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White. Xers don’t grow old because our Icons died young. We have too much life ahead of us to be worried about our age.           

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

            Stay hungry, stay foolish. I found this statement when I was watching some videos on YouTube about Steve Jobs. It’s a simple thing to say but very hard to practice. It made me think of the time when I was hungry and foolish before the mortgage payment before my son was born. Back before life just happened, you know. It happens to most of us. We get caught up in it.

            I got to thinking about another quote I heard that said, “Most men live a life of quiet desperation.” That’s what happens after the hunger is lost and you become comfortable. You become too wise or too scared to stray from your comfort zone. I feel that’s where I landed for a while. But the thing about your comfort zone is this— NOTHING GROWS THERE. Your thoughts don’t evolve. You never challenge your limitations. You go through the motions of life, and then it hits you. You realize you’re happy in your comfort zone, but you’re not living. You know the living I’m talking about, L-I-V-I-N, that’s the living I’m talking bout.

            So, if you’re reading this, look around and take stock of your situation. Are there things you want to do but just continually put them off? What I’ve come to realize is, you got to get after it. People may think you’re foolish for stepping out there. Hell, you may think you’re foolish for stepping out there, but would you prefer to have done something foolish years ago that you learned from, or would you prefer to be getting ready to check out of this world and have the regrets of things you never got to do? Ponder that.