Twenty Three

I used to hate that my birthday was the first day of September growing up because it was always somewhere around Labor Day. This meant that my birthday parties were sparsely attended. (In Massachusetts, nearly everyone vacations that weekend for one last summer hurrah.) I also celebrated a good number of birthdays in hotels around the state of Florida for (my sister’s) Labor Day soccer tournaments. If my birthday wasn’t that weekend, it could also mean that it was the first day of school. Of course, what child wouldn’t want to spend her birthday on the first day of school?

I felt like I should share an obligatory baby picture. Yes, I was a 10 pound newborn.

Anyway, the story here is that I’m just not that into birthdays.

However, I do love that my birthday falls on September 1st now. All of my transitions in life so far have occurred around this furst week of September. Whether I was starting middle school, going to high school, moving to DC for college, or…. now, living in NYC, I love how I can look back and say, “I turned 23 two weeks later.” It’s a great way to mark the transition and it truly feels like a new year, even though it’s not January!

So technically I was born in the 1980s, but considering I spent a grand total of (exactly) four months in that decade I don’t feel like it truly counts. Maybe I’m biased, but I feel like the whole group of us born between 1988ish and 1992ish had such an interesting childhood.

We completely witnessed the technological revolution, but we also were able to have an innocent elementary school period sans cell phones and the negative parts of computers. (Although, we certainly loved our Oregon Trail CD-ROMS.)

We were old enough to remember September 11, 2001 and feel scared, but we also didn’t quite understand what was happening.

We spent our middle school days exchanging AIM screen names (I think I had like eight different ones), but tested the waters of Facebook during high school.

We watched cell phones get smaller and smaller and craved the latest version. From Nokia (anyone for a game of “Snake”?) to the Motorola Razr to the Blackberry and now the iPhone.

We all picked up the home phone at 12:01AM on January 1st, 2000 to see if they still worked, but now…. Who even has a “home phone”???

We listened to Raffi on cassettes and the Backstreet Boys on CDs, but now we stream music over the internet on our iPhones.

We were scheduled (dance class, soccer practice, or piano lessons), but we weren’t overscheduled. (This isn’t completely true, I remember being stressed out in fifth grade because I had to go straight from school to dance class to softball practice and hated it. Compared to what these poor kids today are going through though… it was a breeze. Music and language classes at two years old?)

I think, overall, we had the best of both worlds. I look at my neighbors (all three were born later than 2002) and think of how happy I am to grow up on the cusp. We got to witness all this change. And in a way, I think that is what is going to set our generation apart from any other one.

We saw the impossible become the norm.

I think it’s given us the mindset of “why not?” and it’s something that we will carry with us forever. It’s made us dreamers, and achievers. We don’t think that just because there’s a system in place that simply works that it can’t be improved upon, if not completely replaced by something better. We’re not afraid to take the risks needed to get it done.

With that, I welcome 23 with open arms.


PS We also know that “Lizzie McGuire” was way way way better than “Hannah Montana.”

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Happy Birthday! I'm a bit older than you, but I think you did a great job of describing your generation in regards to technology. I'm often grateful that it didn't really hit until I was in college. 🙂


Happy Birthday. I totally agree with you about growing up in the tech transition. It definitely has created a generation of innovators.


I completely agree. I turned 22 back in June and am so familiar with every reference you used. I love that, like you said, we were scheduled, but not over scheduled. We were able to play outdoors and not have to be monitored near as carefully as today, and it was also a time when we were so young that Xbox, texting, and PSPs weren't available yet to consume every free minute of the day. Happy birthday and good luck with the next year!


Happy Birthday and so true with our little age group. I turned 21 in June and yes this all describes us perfectly! Glad your new job is great!


Happy Birthday!! I'm younger than you, I'll be 21 on November 11th, but the entire time I was reading this post, I was screaming to myself- yes!! I loved everything you said because it was completely true. We still had lives and weren't so tied to technology, so we got to experience a little bit of both. I do think this is what sets our generation apart, in the very near future we will all be doing great things.

Stephanie Arabella

Agree about Lizzy!Loved the post! I turned 21 back in July and was just feeling every word, people born in that period of time still knows what being young means without missing out on the technological advances. It's just part of our systems!

Happy Birthday Carly! 🙂

Landi {Freckled Confessions}

Carly – first off, Happy 23rd!! Secondly, this post is literally dead on as far as my childhood (I was born in '91) and I loved looking back on all those fun memories!!! and I agree about Lizzie McGuire! xoxo

Stacy AC

Happy Birthday! It's my birthday, too, but I am considerabaly older than you! 🙂 I love your blog, and as someone getting a PhD in Marketing right now, your branding is very inspirational. Have a great day!

suburban prep

Happy birthday. Hope it is a wonderful day and a year to remember.

I am older than you by some but I remember one of my birthdays being the first day of 8th grade. (It is a few days away yet).


First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I totally get not loving birthdays, but a bit a bit of reflection is always nice.
And I loved this post. It was so spot on! I like that you referred to it as being born on the "cusp" because that's really so true! We truly had it the best I think.

Enjoy your birthday!


I was born in 1998, so I feel like I totally missed out on that era. It's funny you made this post, because I was actually just thinking about it the other day how I totally wish I was born in like the mid to late 80s…life seemed simpler then, there were better TV shows, and there was the technology people needed but not the stuff they didn't need. I think it would be great to be a kid in the 90s because you got to witness everything. 🙂

Miss Janice

Happy Birthday Carly. You def were Miss Chubby back then, but not now! Today I hope your family and friends celebrate you and all your fantastic life accomplishments! Have a great day!!!


Love this post! It's so cool how we've experienced so much change.. and will continue to! I hope you have a phenomenal birthday, Carly!

Whitney H

Happy birthday! I didn't know that our birthdays were only a month and a day apart. I absolutely love the way you described our generation. So true!


Happy Birthday! Completely agree with your statement that late '80's/early '90's was one of the best times to be born. Especially with technology, I feel like it evolved along with us. 🙂


happy birthday Carly! hope you have fun celebrating in NYC today 🙂 I'm sure this is one of the more exciting birthdays you've had.


Happy birthday! How great that your birthday always accompanies those transitions. I was born in early 1993, so I completely agree with what you said about growing up on the "cusp". Have a great day!

Carly Traynor

Happy birthday, Carly! I was born in 1995, so about 3 years after the '88-'92 generation, but I still remember a lot of those same events. I feel like technology evolved at the same rate at which I was growing up. Nowadays I know of kids as young as 3rd grade who have cell phones of their own!


Happy birthday!! I'm another '89 baby (few months before you, though), and I think this post perfectly describes our little section of Gen Y.

And Lizzie > Hannah. Always.


I am sorry to be late to wish you a happy birthday and an awesome year of new experiences in the Big Apple!
The reason why I came back to this post today is my English essay about globalization 3.0. Your portrait of our generation really inspired me to include this into my essay. I totally agree with your description, although I am a little late as I was born in 1995.

Caley-Jade Rosenberg

Here in South Africa, the 1st September is our SPRING DAY and an awesome day for a birthday!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY and thank you for an interesting post about the past – it's so wonderful to be able to look back and think of how things have changed over the years…

Mine was a little different to your as I am a 1985 baby but still mostly relevant.
Wishing you a FABULOUS year ahead.

Julia D.

Happy belated birthday, Carly! I think you really did a great job of summarizing our generation, even though it wasn't something I've really ever thought about.

Penny Denver

The first paragraph of your post illustrates just how self-centered and out of touch you really are. "Woe is me, my birthday parties were sparsely attended because my friends were too busy summering." Has it ever occured to you that very few children are fortunate to have family who are around for their birthdays, let alone afford parties every year? Or that maybe birthdays should be spent celebrating your health and the people in your life instead of lamenting whatever trivial things AREN'T going exactly your way?

My hunch is that your birthdays were sparsely attended because you are too self-centered and materialistic to have any real friends.