Generational Shift

Somewhere between not being old enough and not being experienced enough there comes a time that you are no longer the sought after generation and your time to roam out to pasture begins.  For some that is occurring at the ripe old age of half of a century.

My question is, what exactly is a fifty-something to do with themselves until they are able to retire?

In many ways, the generation that is sitting at or near a half-century mark never got their day in the sun.  In fact, they have been very non-ceremonially been marked with an “X”.  Seriously, we call them Generation X or Gen Xers’ and they do not fit with Baby-boomers and they are not Millennials, so what exactly are they? Basically, they went from being under-qualified, under-paid, under-insured to over-qualified, too old, and not creative enough to keep up with emerging technology.  They just never really were the “it” generation, they were the “X’s”

So what is a Gen Xer to do?  For me that has been a question that started in my mid-forties when I realized our generation would never be the sought after, what do they want so they will work here, generation.  Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with those generations that are before and after, I’m just saying there is a distinct difference.

The thing is there also seems to be a shift in mindset that is coming with the changing of the guard.

It is an interesting time in the workplace because we are watching the changing of the guard so to speak.  There are still many of the Baby-boomers that are in high places in organizations but there are equally as many Millennials making it up the ladder.  The thing is there also seems to be a shift in mindset that is coming with the changing of the guard.  There is more of an emphasis on the planet as a whole and the environment and what we as humans are doing to it.  Now sure, possessions still are sought after and technology still rules as king for many, but there is also beginning to be a need, an urge, a desire to disconnect and start to communicate again.

What do I mean?  Remember the days when people would gather at each other’s homes to sell items like Tupperware, Longaberger Baskets, Mary-Kay make-up?   All those things that we needed, wanted, desired.  Well, now there is Amazon and online shopping so who needs a party to buy something.  Now there are Paint Nights and places where you can go to play a good old game of Jenga or a supersized version of Connect 4.  There seems to be a shift from wanting things to wanting true connections.  It taps into the creativity that lives within each of us.  It is the difference between work/life balance and just a balanced life.

Speaking of work/life balance.  Exactly what does that mean?  

Last I checked I am alive while I am working.  I am still the same person during the hours of 8-5 as I am at other times.  Does that mean that when I’m working I’m not living?  Quite the contrary and the interesting thing is that there are numerous articles telling me how to live during that time.  Not sure why exactly.  Isn’t being unique individuals part of what makes an organization interesting and well-rounded?  Why should we all try to act the same way?   Why do we not celebrate how we are different more?  Is that how creativity is getting suppressed?

Recently I observed creatives referencing the need to “get it out” of them.  I laughed when I heard someone say that creatives need to create or they make everyone around them miserable.  I am not sure I understood until I realized I had a lot within me that was knocking the door to get out.  There are thoughts, ideas, images, all looking for a way to escape my being yet I have suppressed them because what I think and see is different than those around me.  In an effort to fit in I kept those thoughts and feelings to myself.  The interesting thing that happens when you suppress who you are meant to be is you can feel unhappy, unfulfilled and you feel like your purpose is not met.  For a creative person, you don’t get the fuel from others as they play off of your creativity.

I guess what I am saying is that creativity breeds creativity and to allow those with different ideas and concepts the room to share how they see the world.  Trying to change a person into what the image of a leader is may cause that person to never be the true leader that they are.  And while we are on that topic, not everyone is a leader.

Some people are excellent at following and we as a society need to celebrate those that follow as well as those that lead.

There is a role that both play and without one there cannot be the other.

The moral of the story is that work is life and life is work.  Leaders are leaders, followers are followers, creatives create, age really does not matter and we are all unique and different and have our own style that is distinctively ours.  Each of us should strive to do what is right for us no matter what generation your birth year categories you as.  At least that’s what this Gen Xer roaming the beautiful pasture of life believes.


Raissa Urdiales
Raissa Urdiales
Raissa lived most of her life along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. She currently lives in the quiet city of Tega Cay, South Carolina, just across the border from the very active art community of Charlotte, North Carolina. Raissa has not always considered herself as an artist. She spent a great portion of her adult life staring into computer screens and managing computer system implementations and upgrades in the traditional corporate setting. It was through a chance paint night that she discovered her passion for painting. On her 51st birthday, she treated herself to some acrylic paints and brushes and has not stopped painting since. She balances her passion for creating with her day job as a systems analyst. In the wee hours of the morning, you will find her painting before she immerses herself in the technology that is consuming the world today. Although Raissa does not have formal training in the arts she is very conscious of the benefits it has on the human psyche. She holds a Bachelor's of Science majoring in Psychology where she focused her studies on Organizational Psychology. Through her corporate career, she has learned how to strike a balance between that which provides monetary reward and that which fulfills us as humans. For her, this balance is obtained through painting, writing, and exercise. She is currently a member of the Guild of Charlotte Artists where she exhibits select pieces during the quarterly art shows in and around the Charlotte Metropolitan Area. She has also submitted and is featured regularly in the Light Space & Time online gallery. When she is not painting or working with computer systems, she is writing. She currently has a column with BIZCATALYST 360° named “Artful Being” where she writes on topics both in and out of her corporate life to help others gain balance on what it is to be human.

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  1. I am 13 years past the half-century mark. Your observations were very astute not to mention one million and one percent accurate. Thank you, Raissa for helping make sense out of these more harm than good terms that rob people of their dignity.

    • You are quite welcome. I sincerely hope to contribute to society for many years to come. We absolutely need to otherwise what exactly is the point of our existence? It’s really no surprise depression is on the rise when people have to consider they are washed up by 50!

    • Once again Raissa you have made a very valid point. When I apply to job although it is unlawful for a prospective employer to ask my age they can see from my resume that I am “comfortably” over 50. With the internet, you can get somebody’s date of birth with little difficulty. At 63 years of age despite my years of experience in insurance, mortgage, staffing and recruiting and sales I am washed up. This fuels my depression which does not need much to worsen.

    • Agree with every word Joel. I too have depression that requires no more fuel. You are not washed up…you are just preparing for your next chapter that you are the author of. As Larry Tyler often says…it’s time to unleash that which lives within. The world can use more beautiful words…it has ample ugly ones already.

    • Thank you, Raissa for trying to boost me up. As much as we have accomplished in terms of technology we have taken steps back by way of these labels in terms of how we view people in various age brackets. Certainly, I do not feel “washed up” but the work segment of society does not have a place for me. Recruiting which I have been doing for a good number of years now is geared now to recent Grads and such. The question becomes where do I go from here and what do I do. Somewhere in all of this, I hope to find a positive answer. Thank you again, Raissa.