Hello … I’m New
Yep, I said it, I’m new – not in the context of gullibility or naïveté but in the context of all the life lessons I had to learn have been packed into this life that started in 1968. An old soul I am not. That said, I'm sharing the musings, wisdoms, and life lessons of a Gen Xer.
Ahhh – yes, I referenced my generation … because we have really lived through some shit and this is the perspective that frames my narrative.
We were born after the JFK assassination, many of us came to this life during a deeply unpopular war yet in the midst of the peace, love, and rock & roll times. We were thrust into the Cold War rivalry and recall watching rockets lift off into the inky black stratosphere in a race for space. We marveled as those rockets evolved into space shuttles and then, we witnessed one explode on live television. We worried about nukes and hoped to save the whales. We cheered as Muhammad Ali announced that he indeed was the greatest and giggled at the antics of the Harlem Globetrotters. We were mesmerized by Jacques Cousteau as he dove with sharks and became terrified to swim in the ocean after Jaws was released.
We waited on gas lines with our parents on the odd or even license plates days and we have never known a world where there was peace in the Middle East. We saw the twin towers in New York City completed and then horrifyingly obliterated. We disco danced, sang along to the soundtrack from Grease, and were excited when MTV first aired at midnight in the summer of 1981. We came of age with HBO, Walkmans, Jazzercise, leg warmers, and shoulder pads. Cable television opened us up to more channels than we could ever watch and yet we still remember the color blocked test pattern that would appear at 2am signaling that programming was done for the day. We lived for Saturday morning cartoons and reveled in unsupervised after school shenanigans as the first latch key kids. John Hughes movies captured our generation better than a time capsule ever could. We saw a president or two impeached and laughed as every president was ruthlessly mocked on Saturday Night Live. We quoted the Coneheads, Roseanne Roseannadanna, Wayne’s World, Hans and Franz, and the Church Lady.
Through social media we reveled in the joy of reconnecting with dear old friends and family members that live in different time zones, countries, and the towns we grew up in and left behind. In my own particular case I connected with members in the breast cancer community who have enriched my life tenfold. But – let’s not forget that we lived for nearly 40 years before social media intruded on our lives. And in those 40 years we had friends and family members that had differing opinions than we did on a variety of topics including healthcare and politics and we didn’t block them – we respectfully disagreed and found a topic we both agreed upon. For the good that social media provides us there is a downside as well … but I guess that’s life.
Let's jump in.
Be kind to your flight attendants and seat mates … just be kind. And give grace to the parents traveling with a screaming baby. It’s hard for them too.
Say thank you to the pilot … I shouldn’t have to explain why.
Make the most of a layover. Find a good spot to sit, catch up on calls, read a book, find a unique, local snack to try. Have a beer. People watch. Look at it as mandatory downtime.
When traveling – always bring Imodium, an energy bar, an extra top, and extra undies in your carry on. Also – carry on as often as you can. Also – travel as much as possible. Also – make a point of traveling alone.
Put your all into every project you get assigned. Don’t half ass anything – go in full ass, always.
You won’t always get what you want. Redirect and readjust.
Be present in meetings and conversations.
Keep learning. Be curious. Ask questions. It’s okay if you don’t know everything.
Read something, anything, with frequency – not only does it keep your mind sharp, it makes for great conversation starters.
Never – and I mean NEVER cry at work. Sadly, this one is especially for the ladies. And if you cannot hold it together for god’s sake go to a bathroom, closet, or empty office. Coffee may be for closers ... but crying is for the car and the shower.
Always keep a extra pair of shoes, extra undies, snacks, and a mirror in your desk if you work in an office.
Don’t be embarrassed by your age – long life is a privilege denied to many.
You’re owed nothing in this world. Work hard towards your goals. Always have a plan B.
Forgive – but there is no need to forget. Forgiving heals your heart, but remembering protects it.
Listen to your gut. Follow your heart. Trust yourself.
Tell your children and pets you love them – as often as possible.
And speaking of love, I love you is something you can never say too much – and something you never get tired of hearing.
Dance. Even if you have no rhythm.
Sing loudly and as I do, completely off-key.
Make up words for songs, every day objects, medications, illnesses, anything. It’s good to keep yourself amused.
Experience yourself. Spend time alone. Learn what you enjoy doing, what you like eating, what you like watching, and what you prefer to listen to.
Have photos stored in your phone that make you feel something; happy, sad, loved, giggly, wistful, joyous, reflective, and proud. Look at them often.
All human beings are deeply flawed. We will regularly fuck-up, disappoint the ones we love, and embarrass ourselves. Remember this any time you get mad at someone for not living up to your expectations.
You will hurt those you love, that is a fact. Sometimes it will be intentional and sometimes it will be unintentional. Knowing this allows you to give some grace to those around you.
Further to the above - learn how to properly apologize. Simply saying "I'm sorry" is not a get out of jail free card. Be remorseful and move forward with integrity and intent.
It’s never too late for fresh starts and new beginnings.