I Just Learned ‘Zillennials’ Are A Thing, and I Finally Feel Seen

I was born in 1997, which technically makes me Gen Z. My husband, born just two years earlier in 1995, is technically a Millennial. Both of us are on the cusp and don’t really feel like we fit neatly into either generation. Making it more absurd is the fact that I’m a teacher, and my 5th grade students, who were born in 2012, are also technically somehow still Generation Z, as it spans 1996-2012.

They are from a totally different era, and wow, is it noticeable. They were quick to let me know that skinny jeans and side parts are so 2012 — which, by the way, is the year they were born. They recite TikTok quotes and memes daily and they keep me humble as 95% of the time I have no idea what they are talking about. They’re quite literally speaking a different language.

I was once told by a 5th grader that they love my “vibe” (compliment), but another 5th grader the same week told me that my super fun math game I had planned was actually mid (not a compliment).

So most of the time I feel like the Millennial generation is a better fit for me. I’m only a year away from qualifying as one, and I am also a boring mom of two kids. But the truth is the Millennial generation doesn’t feel like a perfect fit for me, either.

For example, my millennial husband can tell me exactly about the day 9/11 happened. He was in kindergarten, but he remembers watching it on the news and being upset that he couldn’t go to soccer practice that night. I was 4 years old and don’t remember any of 9/11 whatsoever. He also remembers hearing “dial-up tones on his computer.” I had no idea what he was talking about. He also had to explain to me that back in the day you couldn’t be on the phone and surfing the web at the same time.

Likewise, he had to explain the Beanie Baby craze to me. I remember Beanie Babies being around, but I just thought they were something fun to collect like Squishmallows or Funko Pops. My husband explained to me that people in the ’90s truly believed that Beanie Babies would make them rich one day. He told me about how $5 Beanie Babies were being listed for thousands of dollars on eBay, even though a few years later they were worth less than $5.

I’m apparently not the only person who shares this common experience. It turns out there is a name for us: Zillennials. And yes, we have a Wikipedia page. The big thing with Zillennials is our experience with technology. We grew up alongside the crazy rapid development of tech like the internet and smartphones like Gen Z, but we remember a time without it, like Millennials.

For example, Zillennials might remember having a house phone growing up. When they did get their first phone, it was likely a flip phone without access to the internet. They remember having to pay for long distance phone calls and using a phone book to look up numbers growing up. We used printed-out directions from mapping sites. Zillennials may have had social media as a teen, but it was on a desktop computer or laptop and not on a smartphone. Facebook was not yet an app.

Unlike Gen Z, who has grown up with music on their phones, Zillennials maybe had a CD player as a child growing up, then an MP3 player in their teens, before ever having a smartphone with music. If you had an iPod Nano or iPod Shuffle as a teen then you’re likely a Zillennial.

In short, Zillennials are this microgeneration who feel a little out of place with either generation. Zillennials probably have friends who own their homes, who are married with kids, and other friends who are still in college with no savings account.

Zillennials aren’t the only generation to feel lost in the cracks, but we certainly feel out of place between Millennial and Gen Z. In other words, Zillennials may have TikTok, but we aren’t afraid to still rock a good trusty pair of skinny jeans.

Madison is a teacher, a firefighter wife, and a mom of two young boys. An INFJ, she is obsessed with Myers-Briggs and probably wants to know your type, although she might be too awkward to ask. When Madison isn’t working, writing for Scary Mommy, or taking care of her boys, you can find her traveling, reading, and trying out new recipes.

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