The following letter was sent to Neil Howe, author of several books on America’s generations including The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny. Mr. Howe was kind enough to suggest that I might want to start my own blog if I planned to write “on an ongoing basis.” I thought it would be appropriate to share my letter with you.
Dear Mr. Howe,
I am in the process of writing an important article on Generation X and my personal experiences with the job market as it is today. I was hoping you might be able to give me some advice on where I might place it. I thought it would be a great piece for Forbes Magazine because it is an important statement on the generations and Gen-X in particular.
As a writer studying Generation X, I feel my voice is a unique and important one. I am a single, un-married female turning 40 this year; the quintessential latchkey kid with no prospects of a career other than as a writer.
My hero is Mark Twain and three big brothers raised me: Depeche Mode. My parents were of the Silent Generation and I am a latter-day-Xer, an outlier of the X generation. The fact that Mark Twain shares my generational experience upon learning this from 13th Gen, it further deepened my love for him and the reason I gravitate to his ideas. I always wondered why I loved the works of Virginia Woolf and Hemingway; discovering through your book that they are kindred spirits in another “lost” generation.
At 40, I have no children, no family and two houseplants. I live with my aunt, who I am grateful to every day for loving me and providing a roof over my head. I had a retail job of 7 years, at which I quit a year ago when I had several panic attacks and hit a wall. I made $11.25/hour, which was comfortable for me. I didn’t care about the money, but the hours kept going down and I felt constantly abused by angry customers, too much product on the floor and worrying that I was alone at night at the cash registers in a gigantic store where anything could happen and did.
Nothing in college ever prepared me for this type of environment and I had to wipe my self-esteem off of the floor every time I left the building. Luckily, I found an online writing gig for 6 months. At first, there was plenty of work and I scraped by, cutting back on everything I did and savoring the small savings I had to get me through the year. Unfortunately, the work was sporadic and eventually dried up and I had to take my unemployment. Thank goodness for that!
I don’t mean to put all of this on you; however, I know that you understand our generation and what we are going through. I am extremely grateful to you for what you are doing in studying the generations and the importance of this information as we are in truly challenging times.
I thank you for your time and look forward to your reply.
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