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Don’t Get Burned: You Need to Know the 7 Fresh Ways to Identify a Xennial Woman

Picture of a Unicorn

The Xennial Woman is Unique like a Unicorn...

Earlier this summer a Facebook meme caught my eye, it read something to the effect of "How to know if you're a Xennial." I took a quick look and actually said out loud, "Hell, yeah! I'm a Xennial. I am a Xennial Woman." And then I shared it. True story.

As time passed, every time I thought of the term "Xennial" a warm wave of happiness and contentment washed over me. Kind of like the universe just gave me a big hug. I've always felt like a lost generation and I just like the way the word "X-en-nial" rolls off my tongue.

A few weeks later while researching a Brené Brown talk to send to a friend, I came across an interview she'd done for her newest book:

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In the interview Brené says:

“Defining success is one of the most powerful things you can do as a family, as a couple, individually. There is a default definition that is, ‘money, materialism, accomplishment, and achievement.’ So if you don’t come up with your own subversive definition, there is a default.”

I read this statement and I had an "ah-ha!" moment. A revelation. I am a Xennial Woman. And as a Xennial Woman, I can write my own definition of success. One of the first tenants of success for me is that real success is never 100% personal, success takes a team, a community, and so, I started to think about my generation, my community of Xennial women. Yes, we need to write our own definition of success, but first, let's get down to the business of claiming our generation. 

The textbook definition of Xennial (up to this point) only encompasses the years 1976 to 1983. This time frame feels a bit restrictive. 

I hereby declare, that if you are a woman born between 1975 and 1985, and the Xennial shoe fits, then join me in making it our own. And so, without further ado, let's dive into why Xennial women are awesome.

Reason 1: A Xennial Woman named Sarah coined the term

I’ll start with the best reason.  The individual who coined the term, well, she's a XENNIAL WOMAN. Sarah Stankorb, in an article in Good Magazine, coined the term Xennial.  "Xennial" combines Gen-X and Millennial to forge our own term while indicating the overlap between the two distinct generations.

In the article, Sarah embraces being a Xennial, but her co-author does not. He happens to be a guy.

As Xennials, we know that Sarah is an epically Xennial name. Indeed, according to the US Census Bureau, the name Sarah peaked in 1981 with 16,893 babies named Sarah (with an “h”).  

Sarah is the name of my first best friend (our mothers met during pregnancy). And it is also the name of my first baby doll, the one that now belongs to my daughter.

Incidentally, thanks to Elvis Costello, Alison is also a Xennial name. My mom who is not a Xennial would like you to know that our friend Costello released “Alison” 6 months AFTER my birth; thus ushering in an era of Xennials named Alison and Sarah. 

A graph

Reason 2: Xennial’s are Resilient

We don't like whiners. We are not afraid to modify the rules to fit our objectives. We do not easily admit defeat. When we fall off our bike, we pick ourselves up and keep riding.

I recall with surprising clarity the day my high school youth group invited some recent university grads of “Gen-X” to tell us about the “real world.” I didn't learn anything inspirational from the grumpy and grungy group of Gen-Xers they brought in, except that I shouldn't listen to naysayers and I should forge my own path.  

The Gen-Xers didn't actually tell me these things, rather they taught me by example. They'd done what they were supposed to do and they were supremely unhappy. 

Me on the other hand? I set my sights on "I'm gonna Heal the World." It's a work in progress, believe me, but I am not done yet. Xennial Women still have plenty of time to kick-butt.

Reason 3: Xennials are Humble "get it done-ers"  

Xennial Women Are Rare

Many people praise Millennials for their confidence, I’d call them cocky.  My friends often note that for a Xennial, I am more confident than they'd expect. This always surprises, me, because we (I)  sometimes confuse cocky for confidence, and I really don't want to be seen as cocky. Xennial women as a whole are not motivated by fame, but rather by making a difference. 

Xennials don't brag about their accomplishments, Xennials just hunker down and get it done. Especially Xennial women. We also understand the importance of investing time, money and or effort into our achievements. 

Male math-teachers, uncles, the lady in the school office might all have told us "you can't do that," but for every naysayer, we had a champion. I am proud to have watched my female Xennial cohort become rocket scientists, political scientists, attorneys, doctors, and more. Most of them while also being mothers. The ones who aren't mothers? They are awesome too. 

If a Xennial woman can't find someone to do a job right, we'll gladly do it ourselves. 

Reason 4: Xennials by nature understand life-long learning and change

Xennial Woman: do you Remember Your First Walkman?

We may not all be early adopters when it comes to tech and new fads, but we grew up in a time of unprecedented change and we excel at learning on the fly.

Our parents may have played records on a HiFi, but we dubbed, redubbed, and made mix tapes on our personal recorders and our Boomboxes.  We remember distinctly the day we got our first SONY Walkman. First, we took our tunes on the road with our Walkmans, then our  Discmans, and then our iPods.

We ordered books off of Amazon in university and used Google before anyone else had heard of it...even Millennials. We are at ease with technology and without...we played the Oregon trail on Thursday at the Computer Lab, after writing in our diaries, locked with a little brass key.

We got an email address at university before our parents even knew what one was… Our first cell phone fit with ease in our pockets, still only to be used only in emergency situations (or for work). And we have likely tried to explain wifi and the internet to older relatives on more than one occasion. 

Reason 5: We Read

We read (past-tense). We read (present-tense). We love book-clubs. We love our Kindles, but we also love the smell of a real print book. We remember Book Stores and Libraries (full of books, not just multi-media). 

We actually remember reading print newspapers. Before Candy Crush, we had Crossword puzzles (and we just might have a crossword puzzle app on our phone). We may even still subscribe to the NYT (online).  

7 Radical Traits of a Xennial Woman

We came of age in a time in which the social strings of society still seemed reasonably tied together. 

Reason 6: We are Citizens of the World

Thanks to modern broadcasting, Xennials around the world, from the USA to Madagascar to the UK and Australia, grew up watching many of the same shows and listening to the same music. American Xennials, absorbed the USA for Africa song in 1984.

As the result of a major expansion of study abroad programs in the late 1990s (my university added about 30 countries to our options during my tenure), we quite possibly really experienced life abroad as a citizen of the world.

We grew up with Star Wars (the movies and Reagan’s strategic defense program). Around the world, we watched the Berlin Wall fall and the break-up of the USSR. We experienced the world in which "the Russians' love their children too."

We think that Space is the Final Frontier and that we should still give peace a chance.

Reason 7: We came of age in the Last Age of Innocence

In a post-WWII, post-Vietnam, post-Civil Rights, pre-Columbine era and pre-Internet era, we had TraperKeepers, Rainbow Bright, and My Little Ponies. Labyrinth and the Princess Bride. Queen Latifa and Prince.  

The big concern at school: lunch and snack items with sugar as the first or second ingredient. Not whether or not someone might shoot us in the cafeteria. 

We studied about lies, damn lies, and statistics. We may be fascinated by and dismayed by viral media. We take this all this with a grain of salt and we know to check SNOPES before sharing.

Are Xennials generational misfits?

No. In the original article at Good Magazine, Sarah wrote: “Evidently, I am a generational misfit.” This may have been true BEFORE she wrote the text, but once she clicked "publish," Sarah (like you and me), became a Xennial.

​Rare and Unique
Definition of the Xennial Woman

So, yeah, Xennial women are Rare.  As a microgeneration between the years of 1975 and 1985 we are unique.  As the meme I read this summer said, we are the only generation to experience an analogue childhood and a digital adulthood. The nature of our experience means that Xennial women are life-long learners, humble, and resilient. We are comfortable with technology but still love a good print book. We take pride in our origins and we are citizens of the world. We believe in humankind and do our part to build a better future.

Did I leave anything out? What would you add? 

Xennial Women you have a mission:

  • Own your definition of success;
  • Take care of yourself, be resilient;
  • Stay humble, but be confident;
  • Keep learning;
  • Keep reading;
  • Be proud of your origins and be a citizen of the world;
  • Make a difference. 

Press the spacebar to continue...

Just kidding! Hit "share" and tag your favorite Xennial (or 12). It's a movement!

Let's win this one!

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