An Open Letter to the People-Pleaser Generation

cooperation dealing with change feeling invisible generational trauma genx lifestyle millennial people pleasing storytelling xennial May 14, 2019
You might know us as the micro-generation between the GenXers and Millennials, some call us the Xennial generation. We are a generation placed in the “in-between” but I don’t believe it means we’ve been called to be the invisible middle like many have been treating us. I believe we have been called to be the BOLD printed instructions at the top of the page, right below, the line to sign our name.
Ever feel like you just want a do-over? Like, you’re entire life you’ve felt like you screwed it all up, you made a mess of it, you made the wrong choices, wasted too much time, and just weren’t overall focused when you should have been and now it’s too freakin’ late? Feelings like you weren't really the one making those decisions, but in reality you were allowing it?

Everywhere you turn someone is telling you to share your story, they say that’s where you’ll be defined, connected, and most importantly - PLEASE THE PEOPLE! I don’t know about you, but there is no way I want what most would say is “my story” to be my defining timeline. Not because that story doesn't matter but because that story isn't about me, it's about who and what trained me to start to people-please. Like many Xennials, we've learned to be quiet about our struggles, yet conditioned to allow others to use them to control us. I've come to realize, why should this, my story, be about "them" too!
I grew up in a small, one red light town in the late 80s & 90s. Because of circumstance and decisions out of my control, I was exposed to trauma at the age of three. I turned into a troubled, privileged white girl with an out of the closet father and a schizophrenic mother who was being raised by her 80-year-old grandmother. I became an adolescent who was trying to cope with being bullied, verbally & sexually abused, and marginalized because of the time period in our society didn’t mesh with who my parents were stereotyped to be or a time my grandmother could fully comprehend. This is the story I believed until recently the world wanted me to tell. This became my story, and labeled me of who I was meant to be in other's eyes, but it’s never been the story I want to to be told. It’s not my true story, it’s theirs, a society that claimed my life and told me to be someone I wasn’t to please them.
Not all Xennials experienced as transitional of an early childhood as I did, I got the gamit but many experienced similar ones. We were the first children to experience the public hate of a parent coming out to not only be targeted them but us along with them, the first to be burdened with a defunding and deintuitionalization of the mentally health system, a time where a blind eye to sexual abuse was staying out of someone's business or "he's just being a boy" was justifiable and the start of the Age of Grandparents. Today three million grandparents are raising their grandchildren, a stat that's doubled since 1970. So forgive me, if I don’t believe the above to be what defines me because it’s not, it's the story of what was done to me, a story of circumstance. That is the story, the one I allowed to be my label for so long encouraged me to create a lifestyle where my entire life was focused on how to live up to others expectations for fear of what would be done if I didn't and where I'd struggle to truly stand out on my own. These conditions of many Xennials childhoods taught us to be a good listeners, problem solver, and goal setters to move out of a situation. We developed how to evolve quickly so we could move out of a situation and do our best to not be in that position again.
As a people pleaser and an Xennial, it means you're also a starter. Because starting is genuinely what others have asked you to do for them, it's where you find validation and where you become trapped. Starting something is about saying it’s ok, do it because it’s what they say is right or expected, or it’s a decision that feels encouraged that it needs to be done. Most Xennials have all the talents that are the perfect recipe when starting; you're organized, a great planner, you listen carefully, and you are creatively able to solve a problem in a situation. When you are told you are needed you're never afraid to ask for others to take action with you and lead the charge. You're seen as a leader, just never the one that gets the full glory because you concede to it being a “team effort”, even when it wasn't. You are someone's best asset when you're on their side.But then what usually happens, at least in my perspective, is you allow cooperation and pleasing others to dictate your ability to communicate the desires you have to be the one given the chance to show you can succeed on our own. What no one has ever told us, but I'm telling you today is because of all those talents and skills, Xennials are great finishers too!

For most of my life, I’ve been the assistant, the shadow, the secretary. I’ve always felt under-estimated and under-appreciated. (I know, poor me, but hear me out because I believe I'm discovering a trend.) For myself and many Xennials we have feelings that come from abandonment, trauma, and abuse. We can discuss them not because we are weak or whining but because we've also been a part of pivotal cultural transitions in social, economic, and innovational development since our births. We've had to evolve quicker than any other generation to date. These feelings that for a very long time I felt ashamed for having or shamed for sharing, is also part of a culture choosing to take from us but not give. I’ve been made to feel like they were feelings that weren’t allowed or weren’t important enough to be validated by one generation. I’ve been told to move on or change my tone by another. I’ve come to find that my generation of Xennials, seem to continually be hearing this same mantra. In our work, homes, and community, we are told to keep pleasing and be ok with being under-valued or to ignore the consequences of blind optimism out of fear of our best quality, the gift that we've been developing since birth on how to transition and adapt to change quicker than others.
This mentality about our generation, that you might not have been aware existed until today, particularly in work and business, has made me a woman who has made her entire career helping others prioritize their schedules, plan their important milestones, develop strategies, navigate and understand contracts, network, and supply other generations with the support necessary to solve their problems. And due to being under-valued, held to the sideline, and misrepresented of my contributions, I've done it in many instances for less that other generations would see as being up to standard. A true minority mentality. I see myself as a generous person but when does generosity become a shortcoming? When does it become people-pleasing? When does it become the definition of your story? I genuinely enjoy helping create with other generations until I feel used and unwanted and then basically told that I can go back to being invisible. I mean who wouldn't feel that way, right? I've been generous with this gift with very little of it ever actually being shared that I was behind the stage. And for most generations, it's the right of passage, there's a time meant to work your way up, but not for us, we're told that's where we need to stay. In essence, being a people-pleasing Xennial has purposefully and continually put me in a position to be abandoned, to be under-estimated, and to be disappointed by those I learn to deeply trust with this gift. Which makes sense, as Xennials we were born during a time where 50% want to forget or don't even know happened and the other 50% can't let go of what happened. A time of transition, a time of CHANGE, a fact of life most people have a hard time recognizing, but not us. As 10% of the general population we're a minority that might just have some of the answers. I believe Xennials have been born to provide the world the instructions on how to work through transition, because we've had the most practice at it of them all.

I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know, I’m no longer the type of person who is giving this powerful gift of my generation to others without conditions. To other generations that misrepresent us, try to group us with others to take advantage of us, or flat out ignore us I want you to hear me. Xennials can no longer give away this gift and power to those threatening us of not being cooperative enough or those who say we're not the perfect fit with their pursuit for like-mindedness. Who the eff wants to feel like a robot all the time or to be like-minded? Take a look around us, all either of those ways to cope with change does it created bullies, abusers, and hate-throwers!
What I am proclaiming today to you is that I am a professional survivor of my seasons, if you're an Xennial SO ARE YOU! No credentials other than the above and the following are necessary. I’m part of the Xennial generation (1977-1984), some call us the Oregon Trail Generation or Gen Y, but by my definition we are Seasonal Millennials. Someone who learns from how they have been treated and taught in their past, takes those lessons and applies them to their creative thinking and innovative problem solving in every facet of life, so that the focus is not only yesterday or today or tomorrow but a combined lifestyle of it all to make the world a better place! No other generation has had our perspective, a perspective and life's education that I don't believe can be ignored any longer. And it's no longer one I plan to be silent about through people-pleasing.
I’ve been inspired to document my journey on discovering my way back to standing in my own voice, how I use these skills in the world, and the truth about my generation, the “in-between”, “people-pleaser” trained, Xennial.  I believe it is time to write our generations actual story. I am embarking on building a lifestyle movement for myself and other Xennials. I hope to inspire all of you reading this to consider your place within it. Have you ignored us, under-valued us, told us to blend in? Or have you recognized you have the influence to make some room for us? The truth is, you need us, and we want to support you just not with the invisibility cloak anymore.
I have no clue what it will look like. I’m not a generational scholar or psychologist, although maybe that's where I'm heading. I just believe from what I’ve experienced and discovered being an Xennial that our story isn't just one defining transitional moment. It's why others have such a hard time connecting to us for feeling like we can connect to them. I’m a part of a generation who is tired of being told we just don’t fit in with the mold others want us to achieve, tired of getting the leftovers to clean up the mess and continually being the beta tester to oil the wheels. We've complied out of cooperation and yet no matter how many steps we make in the direction we’ve been told to go, we continue to be unseen for our full value. I'm no longer ok with being the "People-Pleaser" Generation we've been conditioned to become. As Xennials we've allowed others to write their name at the top of the page of our stories and hand it in before we have a chance to resharpen our pencil, review our it, and consider the changes that can be made from a perspective no one else has. (Maybe we should start using mechanical pencils instead?)
Writing my name at the Top of the Page, and determining the instructions in BOLD to follow...

The Seasonal Millennial, Genavieve Rose