Why Gen X Doesn’t Like to Brag

October 7th, 2015

I spend a lot of time (probably too much time) analyzing generational differences. And of course studying millennials makes this easy because…well…um… there are just so many differences.

But sometimes I can’t tell if I am really looking at a generational variance, or just some personality characteristic that I have that others don’t. Case in point, my need for privacy. My secretive nature sometimes manifests into me not sharing anything. Even my successes.

Yes, I know I am an introvert. And I know I hate to be the centre of attention. I also get that other people aren’t these things. However I am still blown away over millennials need to boast about every single success.

“Look at my new award!”

“Look where I got an article published!”

“Look at my promotion!”

Is all this boasting a generational thing? Or does it just seem that way because they are actually more successful, and therefore it just appears they are bragging?

OR, is this because social media has created this belief that we are only as good as the ‘likes’ we get. In other words having us believe that ‘winning an award’ isn’t so much as an accomplishment as having 200 people ‘like’ that we won an award.

When I was 25 I had an article published in my city’s largest newspaper. When they asked me for a photo to accompany the article I was terrified. The byline was already stressing me out, but a photo, well that was something totally different. This meant that people who knew me would know I wrote this. This meant that people would think I was an accomplished writer. But I wasn’t. I was just some lucky kid who pitched an article that I am pretty sure was filling up space someone’s else’s failed article was supposed to take. I don’t say that to be self deprecating, I say that because really, the article was no big deal. Really.

When it was published people did notice. I hated it. I wanted to hide. Had Facebook or LinkedIn been around I would never had shared it. Two of my friends at the time actually cut out the article and framed it for me. I think I was supposed to hang it on the wall or something. But I didn’t. And now it sits buried in my closet.

If I re-read the article now (because I haven’t since the day it was published) I would be mortified at how amateur it sounds. Even though I am secretly proud. Yes, that’s right, I am proud. But not for the obvious reason.

What people didn’t know is that prior to having my article published in the newspaper, it was supposed to be featured in a prominent international magazine. Only at the last minute it didn’t happen. Change of editor, or something like that. Anyway I decided I wasn’t going to give up. I was determined to find a home for this article. So I pitched it everywhere I could. Eventually found someone willing to publish it.

I love the fact that I didn’t give up. I don’t so much love that I had a byline and a photo for everyone to see.

Generational difference or not, success for me was, and remains, in the work I do. Not from the validation of others. Not in how many social media likes I get. In other words, you don’t define my success. I do.

Ok, I’m heading back to my closet now. I need to hang something on my wall.