Gen X Women’s Diminished Sense of Meaning in Life and the Impact of Toxic Positivity on American Culture, Charlotte Evers Saleeby

Generation X women are experiencing a diminished sense of meaning in life, rooted in narratives defined by shifting societal values in the formative years of their lives. An explanation for this existential plight is the internalized myth of ‘having it all’ present in American culture. However, previous and limited research on the experiences of the Generation X cohort has neglected to focus specifically on the unique experience of Generation X women. In addition, previous research has not considered how the cultural narrative of toxic positivity has contributed to Generation X women’s challenges in finding and creating meaning and to a lack of meaning-making in the American culture overall. The research shows that happiness and the absence of discomfort does not foster a sense of fulfillment, purpose or connection, which is in opposition to the widely held cultural assumption in the US. The research also shows that narrative identity is a significant tool for meaning processes and creating at an individual, community, and societal level. And finally, the research presents a theory for tangibly making meaning manifest, building from Paul Wong’s work in meaning-making.

keywords: meaning, meaning-making, American culture, Generation X, toxic positivity,
narrative identity, cultural narrative

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