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The Class of '98 Turns 40

We are the Class of '98.

We're a little too old to be Millennials, yet too young to be GenXers. As of now, half of our lives has lived in one century while the other half lives and moves forward in another.

For us, Cabbage Patch Dolls were the 80s, Tamagotchi was the 90s, and Napster was the dawn of the 00s. We grew up with cassette tapes and Saturday morning cartoons. We came of age with CGI dinosaurs and the rise of the Frappucino. And we approach middle age with memes, reboots, and viral videos all designed to distract us from middle age.

We were too young to fully understand the words "Challenger explosion." We were too young to appreciate the fall of the Berlin Wall. But by the time places like Waco, Oklahoma City, and Littleton pinged on everyone's radar, we started to grasp how scary the world could be.

Our adolescence was defined by jagged little pills, prescriptions from Dr. Dre, and the fact that some of us were naughty by nature. We learned that nirvana was something both achievable...and born in Seattle (while wondering what teen spirit actually smells like). We tried gin and juice and thought it was disgusting. And throughout all of this, we began to virtually travel the world via portals like Netscape Navigator and AOL, developing Pavlovian responses to the robotic sound of three little words: "you've got mail."

We lived through a Reagan and a Clinton, two Bushes, and an Obama. And before one POTUS got caught getting frisky in the Oval during our senior year, we witnessed a young woman named Mariah have a "Vision of Love," we collectively dropped our jaws on a Sunday night during the premiere of "Black or White" (after In Living Color), and we became obsessed with the trials and tribulations of teenagers living in a posh California zip code.

Some of us experimented with frosted tips and goatees at the turn of the new millennium. Some of us invested in a pair of jellies in the summer of '89, Birkenstocks during the summer of '99, and gladiator sandals in the summer of '09. We went from beepers and Discmans and flip phones and BlackBerry mobiles. We sampled all the racks: baggy jeans from Tommy, puffy jackets from FUBU, khakis from the Gap, cargo shorts from Abercrombie.

We matured into the Class of '02 with the honor of being the first college graduates after 9/11. Some of us became more complicated, more conflicted, as our world became more complicated and conflicted. We currently don't know where the hell we're heading. And we're not the only ones...

We're straight, we're gay, and we've blurred lines across the entire spectrum. We like and dislike labels. We like each other's posts, even though most of us haven't seen each other in decades. We're liberal, conservative, and somewhere in between. We're happily married, thankfully divorced, and blissfully single.

Turning forty means so many different things to us. It's becoming our parents, whether we like it or not. It's being far from what our parents were at this age, whether we like it or not. It's unabashedly blaring and singing along to 25-year-old pop songs in the car. It's slightly freaking out over the fact that, twenty years ago, we were just twenty. It's being annoyed now by anyone under the age of twenty. It's subsequently dealing with the creeping realization that life is indeed short. It's watching Saturday Night Live and, for the first time, not recognizing the musical guest. It's reassessing our position at work, our role in our families, the status of our health, and our overall place in life.

We are the Class of '98. And we're just getting started.



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