Tips from a Home-Working GEN-X'r on Managing Sanity in Social Isolation.

In a recent Metro UK article titled “Who is Gen X and why does self-isolating come so easy to them?”, Faima Bakar writes that the precautionary measures of self-isolating are, for the most part, a seemingly effortless executable concept for the Gen X folks. The crowd born between 1965 and 1980 are reportedly navigating the waters of social isolation better than others.

Why is this?

Well, as explained in the article, this oft-ignored generation known as Gen X has a great amount of experience in self-sufficiency, and we’ve had it from early age. We had to.

In her article, Bakar explains the term that we grew up with: “Latchkey Kid”. Those with two working parents who are left alone after school and required to be self-sufficient from youth. Homework, chores, cleaning and staying busy in an era before rampant social media and online options… we’ve been to this puppet show. We’ve seen the strings.

We were thrust into having to look at adulthood with a critical eye from our point of view. A lot of this learning was expressed through our art – which can often explain the music, movies and magazines of our era.

Who is Gen X?

It’s a group of people like me. Back in the 1990’s, we were the generation who brought the ire of the elders with our Winona Ryder movies, flannel shirts, Nirvana music and fancy $3 coffee. “Society was on the verge of collapse,” they would bemoan…

They hated us too…

We were categorized as misanthropic and unmotivated while also being required to be fiercely self-sufficient.

Personally, I had a bit more of a learning experience as I was a feral child.

Beyond latchkey, I grew up with poverty and abuse, so I have been navigating for myself since single digits.

The library was my day home. Silent and filled with life instruction (non-fiction is still my favorite), I would pour through texts, learning any subject that my young mind felt to be important. To this day I can bore you with incessant amounts of word vomit over some of the most random topics of conversation.

When the day would come to a close, I knew which local food pantries would give me rations without a parent having to be present so I could eat for the evening.

It was such a dire situation that, at one point, I wrote President Ronald Regan a letter in anger. It was Christmas time and I was fed up with everything. He responded by sending a letter, a book about the White House and had instructed The Salvation Army to bring us a hot meal. There was a minimum of 5 of us in that little rental and that was a banner day.


Needless to say, I’ve always been fiercely self-sufficient.

Like Pee-Wee Herman I, too, was a loner – a rebel, until landing in my group home in the late 1980’s.

I suppose that it is no surprise that my adult job would also be research-heavy, introverted and can be done from anywhere.
Truth be told, it works well with my nurture as well as my nature (INTJ) – but, I am also keenly aware that I am an exception and not the rule.

That being said, it is with personal understanding that I felt that I could share some tips for those who may be trying to figure out how to make it through the next few weeks while keeping some semblance of sanity.

I know that this may not apply to everyone – and there are so many people who are dealing with so much right now – but, maybe for today, I can help you keep your mind focused or help share a tip that gets you thorough.

Be well – stay safe – stay home – Love y’all.


Write lists
I’m a list maker. It is a great way to bring a sense of focus and control in the midst of a lot of things that aren’t in our control. I keep one running list of ideas and thoughts and I also write another for the day while I enjoy my morning coffee.
This amount of open time that many out there are experiencing doesn’t provide the physical boundary of going to and from a place of employment. The physical routine has been shifted. Some may feel like they’re just “floating” right now. Tether back to yourself and get grounded with some listing.
I know that (for me), lists are mental blinders, allowing me to reign back in should I find myself trancing off into procrastination land.

Use and Learn New Coping Skills – Healthy Ones.
Therapy works, y’all. Good coping skills are essential to the life navigation process. This is especially important in chaos and trauma. Good coping skills can include journaling, crafting, learning something new. Here’s a list from that gives a good amount of ideas. Put time into planning your day. Be an active participant in where your mind is going to go. While we cannot control everything that happens in our lives, we can control how we react to it.

Utilize your resources
I am a fan of the public libraries. They have always been my calm, comforting sanctuary. If your local library is anything like mine, it has many online resources where you can check out eBooks, watch movies, take video courses – all with a free library card.
When you make your list, set an alarm or schedule an appointment with yourself to spend an hour learning something new. How about an online course in sign language? You can walk a number of museums virtually, too.

Be patient with yourself and those around you
Remember, the brain is pre-wired for a fear-based response. It’s a survival instinct that we have in our system. Marketing preys on it. Conspiracy theories thrive in it.
It takes active, cognitive effort to go beyond it. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in life, it’s that the kryptonite to fear is knowledge. By having things to focus on and keep the mind productive, it is helping to not spiral down the scary-go-round. This is a big reason why I push learning and being productive in times like these.

We’re all on this ride together – in our own homes.

At times it may, understandably, feel cumbersome or overwhelming. I want you to know, though… While it won’t always be easy and it won’t always be fun, it is achievable.

It is possible.

I know that we can do this because many have done it before.

Just be safe. Stay home as much as possible. Wash your hands and be kind to yourself.

Love y’all.

Published by SJohnsonArtist

Dallas-based writer, photographer & visual artist. Breast Cancer Survivor. Cannabis advocate. Middle-aged and riding it out...

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