Stuck between Generations

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Tilt.

“You’re a Pisces sun with Pisces rising and a Pisces Venus? That’s  about as close as anyone can get to loving unconditionally.”

—An astrologer friend in a recent conversation with me

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

As further proof that I was born ahead of my time, my birth year is generally included as the last of the baby boomers. And yet, I’ve rarely had anything at all in common with baby boomers.

I always found myself identifying a little more closely with Gen Xers. At least in my terms of attitudes and enjoyment in variety.

When I graduated from college, I resented being referred to as a baby boomer.  Particularly  because the job market sucked so badly at the time. All of the middle and upper management positions were filled by  baby boomers, and they weren’t going anywhere.  Unless you were and  engineer,  there  were  precious  few  jobs  that  paid above minimum wage.

The job market had turned, but nobody had seemed to notify the universities of this yet. They were still delivering seminars about how the right combination between high GPA  and  extra  curricular  activities  could  land  a high-paying   job   in  middle  management  in  corporate America. That was my first lesson in being stuck between generations, and it was a harsh one.

There’s a shift occurring, on so many levels. And one of those shifts is how we look at our life’s work.

Among the baby boomers and older generations, you graduated from college and went to work in one particular job.  You  worked  your  way  up to the  top  and you worked there for your entire life.

Toward the end of that generation,  you didn’t necessarily work for one corporation  for thirty years, but you did make long-term commitments to the one or two corporations  you  worked  for  with   well-timed  jumps  to higher positions.

It won’t be that way in the future. What I see for my own children  is working  in a particular  job for several months at a time, taking a six-month hiatus, then working in another job for perhaps two years, leaving that job for a few months, beginning another that lasts  three weeks, taking a week off, and beginning another that lasts four months—all different types of jobs. Task-oriented,  independent  contractor type work. There’s more variety and more independence,  but it takes more discipline to save, too, and to manage your own career.

With this future coming, I see the twenty-somethings of today’s workforce and the early thirty-somethings staying in a job for three to four years, and then moving on to another job.  Three to four years for them is a commitment, and it’s a long-term one.

Well, if that’s how different generations  look at their life’s work, how do they look at long-term relationships? How do they look at committed relationships?

Once upon a time, a commitment was for life. You married  someone  and  you  stayed  married  to  them  for thirty, fifty, seventy-five  years. Couples who’ve still love each other and  have been together over fifty years, say they’ve seen enough to  understand the ebb and flow of relationships.  Enough  to  still  love  each  other  though they’ve been in and out of their feelings for each other many times and know the feelings will come back if they can continue to grow together. You live long enough and you see the patterns, they say.

The patterns for my generation? Nowadays, we seem to take on longer term series of relationships—serial  monogamy as  some  people call it. Eight years here, fifteen there,  and  it’s  not  uncommon  to  find  date-able  men who’ve been married three times before they’re 40.

So what’s coming in the future?

Will a commitment be not for life, but for oh, three or four years?  Biologically there’s something to be said for that. Couples bind together, have a child, and then by the time the child is three or four years old, weaned, the family unit seems to break up. Often attracted elsewhere. Per- haps it’s biology to seek out others to blend their DNA and distribute their genetic material. Not having all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

So where  does this leave someone between generations?

The ego wants forever—if life’s good with the person, that is. And if not, to find a person you can be with for the rest of your life. Biology wants variety, and the heart wants what the hearts wants.

If you stay in one relationship,  or one job, for too long,  then  you  risk  stagnation.  Change  is  good  and  it keeps the inner fires stoked.  It’s  been said that we are very, very lucky to find someone in a long-term relation- ship who will continue  to change  and grow just as we hopefully will continue  to change and grow and that we both, in spite of all the change and growth, still like the people we are and still like the people we’ve become.

I don’t  consider  that luck. I consider  that unconditional love.