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Generational outlier finds comfort zone

Watch out, millennials, Generation Katniss is nipping at your heels.

That’s the name a British economist has given the next generation of young women. Teenagers now, the girls have been shaped by technology, recession and terrorism in a world that researcher Noreena Hertz found has given them a heavy dose of anxiety about the future.

Hertz just released the results of a wide survey of girls between the ages of 13 and 20 and named the group after fictional heroine Katniss Everdeen from the dystopian world of “The Hunger Games.”

Whatever you call them, you can be sure researchers will be racing during the next few years to explain the next big group. We’re fixated on defining generations, particularly the latest to step into the world of adulthood.

No worries, though. For the time being, we’re still millennial-obsessed. Last week, we heard reports that millennials were taking over the workforce, that they’re shrugging off religion and that they’ll have fewer sexual partners than the baby boomers. And, the latest poll found, they don’t like being called millennials.

Even millennials are sick of descriptions of millennials.

I’ve had the good fortune of falling squarely between two generations – not old enough to be a true Gen Xer, but not quite young enough to fall under the millennial label. To that, I say, thank God. I’ll gladly watch from the sidelines of either group.

Born six months shy of the ’80s, I’m either lumped in with the Xers, tacked on to the millennials or just plain ignored, depending on the demographer.

I’m old enough to remember being shocked by Kurt Cobain’s suicide, but young enough to have spent my 20s and entire adult work years in an economy marred by the anxiety of terrorism and recessions.

I’m happy as a generational outlier. It’s a bit like being on an anthropological tour where you can watch safely from the outskirts.

Gen Xers were seen in their 20s as grunge-obsessed cynics touched with an independent streak from their divorced parents and latchkey afternoons.

Millennials are typecast in even odder ways. Seen as derailed by the Great Recession and still living with their parents, they’re criticized as glued to their phones, self-obsessed and irreverent.

I don’t see this description in any of the 20-somethings I know. The people I know are studious, hardworking, single, married, having their first babies, having their third babies, dropping out, stepping up, pursuing corporate careers, creating their own paths.

You name it, they’re doing it.

I’m guessing that 20-somethings in the ’90s detested the Generation X label as much as millennials do today. Who wants to be categorized simply by the group of people you came of age with? It’s like being told your high school graduating class is the worst that the principal’s ever seen.

Marketers and researchers need to define people, fine. But they gloss over the incredible diversity that is young adulthood in America. It always has and always will be what you make of it. Jack Kerouac no more defined men of the Greatest Generation than Lena Dunham defines all women between 20 and 34.

As for where I fit in? I’ll gladly claim Generation None of the Above.