Being an Age Chameleon

“There is no greater joy than being part of a group reciting the entire theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in perfect unison”.

I was born in 1981. Two weeks ago, I turned 32-years-old. That means I’m 3 years and 351 days off what Sex and the City’s Carrie and Miranda would call my “scary age” of 36. It also means that I am on the Generation X to Y cusp.

After doing some research that entailed watching the generation feature on Channel 10’s The Project a few months ago and  looking up a couple of articles on that entirely accurate information hub Wikipedia, Australian Gen X-ers are typically defined as those born between 1963 and 1980, and Gen Y-ers from 1981 to 2000. If someone calls me a Gen X-er, I usually deny it, because everyone wants to seem younger, right? I also don’t see myself as sharing a common upbringing with those born in the 1960s and I was too young to really register anyone before John Howard as the Prime Minister, let alone identify with Winona Ryder in that quintessential Gen X-er movie Reality Bites, which was released in 1994, or realise just how pretentious the movie really was (am I right?) Around that time, I was the target audience for Sister Act 2, rather than for Dangerous Minds.


Then again, I vividly remember New Year’s Eve 2000 as an 18-year-old wearing a hanky top (remember those?) and finally getting legally drunk on Stollys, and to think that I belong to a generation including people who were just being born in 2000 seems just as far-fetched. I mean, J.Lo released ‘Waiting for Tonight’ for the millennium, and I still think that was about 5 years ago. The fact that it was 14 years ago makes my mind want to implode.

What I’m getting at is that, when magazines and shows like the aforementioned The Project do big generation features, I never feel like they are talking about me! On second thought, maybe I am part of Gen Y, aka the “Me, Me, Me Generation” according to Time magazine.

But really, us Gen X-Y cuspers, for lack of a better word, are in a unique and, I think, privileged position at this moment in time. We are age chameleons, able to float between being old Gen X-ers and young Gen Y-ers whenever the situation suits us. We can reminisce about the sense of accomplishment we had when we finished making a mix tape and we know all the words to just about any popular ‘90s track you could throw at us – a skill that hours of listening to (and recording) the Top 40 on our radios in our bedrooms taught us and now serves us well at a certain late night dance establishments (I have no shame on a dance floor). There is no greater joy than being part of a group of people all reciting the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in perfect unison. It’s an innate skill that all Gen X-Y cuspers possess.

Yet we can still claim to be young on account of the technicality that our birth year scrapes us into Gen Y. I mean, I like dancing to dubstep as much as to Salt ‘N’ Pepa’s ‘Whatta Man’. Well, almost. That is to say, I can be “down with the kids” when I want to be (and yes, I know that the very fact I say “down with the kids” catapults me into Gen X, but I can fake being young convincingly, you see).

However, what we really are is a sub-generation that fell into the X-Y crevice in which Nirvana and The Prodigy (depending on what you were into) were big influences, especially on our older siblings, but we were way too young to fully understand the grunge movement or go to the raves for which The Prodigy’s music was intended, and where we live on and embrace our smartphones, but we didn’t get our first mobile until we were at university.  We are able to benefit from a best of both worlds scenario and that’s pretty damn cool.

To my fellow 1981-ers and other early ‘80s babies, if you’re anything like me, you’ll relish these next couple of years of being an age chameleon – able to seem young with generational dates to back us up – because I know it’ll be a different story by the time I reach my scary age.