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Your Generational Cohort

Lesson 10 on "Connecting the many pieces of the puzzle of you" is about your generational cohort. Now, even though you may not be fully conscious of it, you are a member of a generational cohort. The cohort is composed of a group of people who are approximately the same age. These individuals had similar cultural experiences that shaped their thinking as they were becoming of age. Your cohort membership happened when you were somewhere between the ages of 18 and 24 years old.

The cultural exposures that connect members of a cohort are called defining moments. These defining moments are made up of people and events that range anywhere from political figures that were in power when you were coming of age or to a trend in eating like paleo or gluten-free food. Your defining moments also include the sports figures, music, and movie celebrities that were making the news when you and your cohort were between those years between 18 and 24 years.

Your cohort experienced everything the same time you did from a war that was being fought to the power of social media. You didn't have to be in the same town, country, and in some cases not even in the same continent. It's just that these things were going on at the same time you and all these others were coming of age.

Your core values were formed when you started to become an economic adult. Now, economic adult means a time in life when an individual is able to support himself or herself. For most individuals, this happens just around the same time that they come of age.

The coming of age connection is truly a bond - even though you're not consciously aware of it. Now, there are other things that have to be factored in. These other things may include your family, geographic location, your education, different kinds of group affiliations that we talked about in personal and social identity theory. Having said that, your generational cohort continues to have a pull pretty much throughout your life. Unless you have had a significant life event that caused you to challenge old assumptions and change your thinking.

It's interesting to note that some personal connections formed at this time remain relatively unchanged regardless of one's chronological stage or state in life later on. There is an easy and fun way to check this consistent view by assessing if you still prefer listening to the music you grew up with and you still like it later on in life. Seems simple, yet it's mostly true for everyone. You may also find that your attitude toward money, savings, sex, tolerance will remain consistent with the values that you formed at that time when you were coming of age – unless again, a life-altering event changed your perspective.

Hopefully, you are encouraged and not discouraged at how many ways there are for you to understand who you are and what you bring to this world.

It will be fulfilling for you to take some time now to organize what you know about yourself and tell your story – for yourself or for others that you love to listen to later on. Everyone does have a story to tell and figuring out a way to do that is what we'll focus on in Lesson 11.

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Written by

Sylvia Gaffney, PhD