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If you still have a CD collection, don't totally understand Snapchat or have read Gary Paulsen's "Hatchet" more than once, you might be a "geriatric millennial."

The term was coined in April (offending late-30-somethings everywhere) to define those millennials born in the early 1980s, a group that has struggled to find its place among generational boundaries.

Their experiences, after all, have been unique.

Unlike their younger cohorts, born up to 1996, older millennials grew up in an analog world. They remember landlines, cassette tapes and VCRs — as well as the cusp of the digital age, which they entered as young adults.

This year, the oldest millennials turn 40. To celebrate this milestone, we asked five to reflect on turning 40 and their life experiences up to this point, helping to better define their unparalleled (if not poorly named) microgeneration.

 

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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Amanda Carmichael still has her old landline phone. A "geriatric millennial" who turned 40 in April, she has witnessed the switch from analog to digital.

OVER THE HILL

Amanda Carmichael remembers the card she made for her father on his 40th birthday.

"I drew a hill and put my father over it," says Carmichael, who was in college at the time. "It's funny, you remember your parents turning 40 and they seemed a lot older."

The owner of a public relations agency and mother to a 7-year-old daughter, she is now 40 herself, having hit the milestone in April. But she never dreaded the age, she says. In fact, she had looked forward to it.

When Carmichael and her business partner launched their firm 11 years ago, "Everyone referred to us as 'the PR girls.' That was fine, but I thought, maybe when we get older people will take us more seriously," Carmichael says.

Besides, she learned early in life to not waste time fearing the unknown.

"I remember being so scared to go to middle school. The school was creepy and it had a reputation. But it turned out to be great. Why was I so afraid? Why not just look forward to things?" she says. "You make what you will out of a situation. My husband and I have been together for 24 years. We've been through it all, and we say all the time, 'It just keeps getting better.'"

What is something in your home that gives your age away?

"I still have the telephone I used in the house I bought at (age) 25. It's one of those see-through phones from the '90s. We had a landline back then. Of course we don't anymore, but [my 7-year-old daughter] loves to play with it. She thinks it's the coolest thing. Outside of hotels, she's never seen a (corded) phone." ~ Amanda Carmichael

 

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Contributed photo / Jerry Hill

WISDOM, EARNED

At age 40, "everything hurts," Jerry Hill says with a laugh.

But Hill has led a more extreme life than many — snowboarding; rafting; jumping off waterfalls.

"Living right," he calls it. "I may not be in my physical prime, but I make up for it in wisdom."

Now the father of a fifth-grader and manager of Ocoee's Bigfoot Rafting, Hill says what he loves most about his age is the gratitude that comes with it.

"I'm good at 'dadding.' I'm good at being a spouse and running [the outfitter]. I'm more thoughtful; I pay more attention and do things with more effort. It's taken me this long to get there.

"Wisdom," he says, "is earned, not granted."

Do you remember your first mobile phone?

"I remember bag phones. My aunt had one — the kind that went into your car and plugged into your cigarette lighter. It looked like a camera bag, but it was a phone with a cord. I didn't get my first cellphone until I was 17 years old. It was one of those old square Nokias that came with like a thousand clip-on covers." ~ Jerry Hill

 

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Photo by Jennifer Bardoner / Lanse McLain

A CHANGE IN PLANS

Lanse McLain always imagined that by 40 he would be married with children, probably working retail management, which had been his career path through his 20s.

Instead, he's single and works as a personal assistant for a tattoo artist in North Georgia.

McLain admits that, at times, he regrets not becoming a father.

"It wasn't really a decision — it just never happened. Now, I have to mow my own lawn and do my dishes," he says, smiling.

But the truth is, even if he could, McLain says he wouldn't change a thing.

"I get to eat ice cream for breakfast and I finally have a net worth," he says. "I've had time to think about what's important. I've built a little community and have some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I wouldn't want to replace that with anything."

Do you remember your first home computer?

"I was part of the dial-up generation. I bought my first computer at age 18 and got into online gaming. Being able to play checkers with people all over the world was pretty cool." ~ Lanse McLain

 

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Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Brynna Hamilton

UNDER ONE ROOF

Last November, Brynna Hamilton turned 40. In May, her oldest son turned 25 — which means that, technically, they belong to the same generation.

"I feel like there should be an A and B group (within millennials), because there is a night and day difference between us," says the Erlanger nurse practitioner and mother of three.

For starters, she says, "I was in middle school when the internet was invented, and he lived on it."

But also, she says, 20-somethings today seem to be dependent on their parents for longer.

"I was working and out on my own at 16," Hamilton says. "My 19-year-old never wants to leave home, and it's mind-boggling."

When she was that age, Hamilton remembers imagining herself at 40.

"I figured I'd have a career and kids, and the idea just seemed blah," she says. "Well, I have all that now and it feels so much better. It's difficult and rewarding. I'm finally comfortable with who I am. It takes years of life to get there, but when you do, it's a really good place to be."

Tell me you're 40 without telling me you're 40.

"In high school I had a pager and I thought it was the bee's knees." ~ Brynna Hamilton

 

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Contributed photo / Meg Scarbrough

FINDING A PLACE

Meg Scarbrough, a former editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has made a career of critical thinking, so it's no surprise she's spent a lot of time scrutinizing generational boundaries.

Each generation, Scarbrough says, seems to be defined by a single event. For millennials, it was 9/11. For Gen Xers, the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"I was either [too young] or already an adult when those things happened," says the 40-year-old, who shares a home with her partner of 10 years.

Rather than one defining moment, Scarbrough feels her experience was "shaped by many swirling things." The Columbine shooting, Princess Di's death, home computers and grunge music, for example.

And while she isn't wild about the name "geriatric millennial," Scarbrough says she's happy to have the uniqueness of her subgeneration recognized. And she's happy to be 40, too.

"My 20s were kind of challenging; my 30s were pretty great." Now, she says, "I'm getting more wrinkles, my body is changing — and I feel better about myself than ever. Every year, it's just getting better."

What is an activity from your childhood only a person your age would understand?

"I remember when we figured out that you could call your own house (on the landline). You could dial your number, hang up real quick and it would ring. We used to prank (call) our parents." ~ Meg Scarbrough

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What is a millennial?

Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. With an estimated population of 72.1 million they are now the largest generation in the U.S., having surpassed Baby Boomers, which have a population of 69.6 million. "Geriatric millennials" refer to those born between 1981 and 1985.

Who coined "geriatric millennial," anyway?

The term went viral after an author published a story on the online platform Medium titled, "Why the Hybrid Workforce of the Future Depends on the 'Geriatric Millennial.'"

In fact, her story celebrated the adaptability of those born between 1980 and 1985 as being "comfortable with analog and digital forms of communication."

You might be a "geriatric millennial" if you ...

> Watched "Jem and the Holograms" after school

> Remember floppy discs

> Owned the "Star Wars" trilogy on VHS

> Chronicled your life via LiveJournal

> Used your college email to sign up for Facebook, because it was required

> Owned a Blockbuster card

> Were ever the victim of a covert three-way call

> Owned a portable CD player

> Remember Yikes pencils

> Saw "Titanic" in the theater

> Burned a CD mix

> Played Oregon Trail in the computer lab

> Had your high school crush call you on the house phone

> Convinced your parents to get you an Olan Mills Glamour Shots session

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