\”This isn\’t just about a Hollywood actress facing the looming perils of 40. For Winona Ryder, but also for anyone her age, the question is this: how, if you are a product of youth culture and nothing but youth culture, do you grow up?
\”I don\’t know\” may be an honest line for 23-year-olds, but for 35-year-olds it\’s either faux naivety or dereliction of duty. X, the unknown quantity in Generation X, can\’t remain perpetually undefined. As Reality Bites tried to show, slacking is as much of a career decision as yuppie careerism. In the end, your indecision will be final, if not fatal.
Trying to grow up, it helps to be involved with something difficult, something which takes a lot of effort but which eventually rewards that effort. In other words, a craft.\”
From \”Girl uninterrupted\” by Toby Litt, March 17 2006 http://film.guardian.co.uk/features/featurepages/0,,1732563,00.html?gusrc=rss
Litt susses up the exact problem I have had with literally everyone I have known in my own age group since middle school–including the people I have considered to be my friends: that we have no identity, no purpose. We base ourselves solely on our relationships to others–other people, other things. A classic Us vs Them mentality, whereupon if You don\’t like what I like, then I don\’t like You. If You don\’t believe what I believe, then You are wrong, and I don\’t like You. Everyone trying to make everything black and white, when the world is nothing if not full of ambiguity.
My generation can define themselves by their tastes in culture: song lyrics, movie quotes, gadget or brand alliance, lifestyle \”choices\”–oh, so sexy to be counterculture, just like everyone else in the minority with whom we claim allegiance. We give ourselves subcultural labels for life, and yet we\’re unable to say what the point of it all is.
We don\’t have a real reason to get up in the morning. Oh, sure, obligations, but how many of us are passionate about anything we do? We spend more time and money on escapism than in contributing to the greater good or even in self-improvement. More than anything else, we\’re passive consumers–be it of booze, television, gossip, technology, blow, sex toys, clothes, home tchotchkes, or anything else; we pull it on in and contribute little other than 21st Century jetsam, leaving digital trails of our self-obsessed misery in our wake.
I suppose this is why I get along best with people who are so much older, those with at least 15 years on me. Somehow, despite having been Coupland\’s original Generation X, those folks have moved beyond the aching search of the Baby Busters, the post-Baby Boomer dilemma. Depending on your source, Generation X stretched from 1958 or 1964 through 1981, at which point Generation Y kicked in. I grew up without cable tv, without a computer, and constantly hanging on the ratty Chuck Taylor shoelaces of my elder cousins; born on June 27, 1981, I tend to align myself with Generation X–the old school generation X. Not the MTV Generation or the Thatcherite kids who still haven\’t figured a damn thing out for themselves. Granted, I\’m not exactly on a straight path to personal redemption myself, but I constantly and consistently feel like I have a hell of a lot more in common with the greying old fogeys in their early 40s who like to take some time off to sit at home and read the International Herald Tribune than my peers in their 20s who can rarely be found without coke in their pockets and a constant unspoken monotone of \”I don\’t know what I\’m doing and that makes me scared, and unhappy.\”
I guess it boils down to this: I\’d rather know what I\’m doing and not be unhappy. So to quote Eugene, I don\’t ever want to be young again. I danced for five hours straight last night, but I\’ll be more than content to remain an old soul with a youthful spirit and an ageless heart.