Solve For WHY: A Birthday Equation

     I’m not quite 36 in this picture

Today I’m 36. I’m one year younger than Nickelodeon and one year older than MTV. I mention this because we grew up, side by side, like peers influencing each other until some of us* grew apart (*MTV). While I’m definitively Leo, generationally I’m more of a cusper. I ride the line between Gen X and Gen Y, constantly shifting from the cynicism of X to the optimism of Y. I’m like an unsolvable algebra equation.

Despite this, I’m proud of where I am. I belong to a generation who is not embarrassed about seeing Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure in the movie theater (twice) because we also elected Barack Obama (twice). I belong to a generation that was sold margarine, skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and diet soda as “Health Food”. Microwave dinners and Lunchables might have made things easier for our parents, but they are also gave way to the visceral fat deposits we’ve spent our entire adulthoods fighting. For these reasons and more my generation wants to do better, so stop micro-mommying us. Seriously, just shut up.

We also proudly take responsibility for what you call political correctness, only we call it by its true name, Accountability. I love my first amendment, I’m exercising it right now. But please remember, you are free to speak: you are not free to speak without consequences. If you want to say something to disparage, discriminate against or exclude socially disadvantaged groups of people, go ahead. We’ll be here to call you out on it. So get used to it and stop whining about political correctness.

My generation knows nostalgia kills. We know that being precious about our childhood doesn’t facilitate the changes evolution demands. We know how to properly honor those memories, just watch Netflix’s Stranger Things. If you need an example of how not to honor your childhood, just listen to anything coming out of Clint Eastwood’s gaping face hole.

Today I’m 36 and I’ve hit nearly every rung on the adult social ladder. I’ve been married, I’ve been divorced, I’ve bought a house, refinanced a house, sold a house. I’ve paid off car loans, I’ve owned multiple expensive-as-fuck vacuum cleaners. I’ve been sued by another person, I’ve worked in one field for over 20 years, long enough to retire from it, and just five months ago I had a hysterectomy. As the Gen Y’s say, I’ve “adulted” the shit out of things and it’s my pleasure to tell you, most of these things mean nothing at all. The only benefit these things have brought have been the experience of letting them change me, which may wind up being as temporary as the experiences themselves, as change always engenders more change.

I’m 36, until I’m not anymore, but trips around the sun only matter if you learn something from them. The most difficult things I’ve learned in all these trips is how to love myself and how to have empathy for all others. When it comes to these two virtuosities, I’m still an undergrad. I’m constantly practicing and doing my homework, because with all things learned … if you don’t use it you lose it.

Today I’m 36.

Also published on Medium.

Valerie JaneSolve For WHY: A Birthday Equation

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