"It's only now that I'm noticing a bit of a division between the cradle youth (many of whom are now young adults) who've been at St. John's for years and years, and the new young adults who converted. My friend who I mentioned earlier has expressed at various times in the past that she is intimidated by all of the converts who, in her eyes, 'seem to know everything.'"
"How can we smooth the cradle/convert rift? Can we really just call ourselves Orthodox Christians without harping on the term 'convert' or 'cradle' as if it were a measure of reverence or devotion?"
I've always thought the label "convert" to be awkward and misleading. One could argue that the whole concept behind phrases like "I converted to Orthodoxy in 1998..." is part of the Protestant baggage many of us still carry. As if one's conversation to the truths of Holy Orthodoxy can be boxed into any one particular moment!
The proper attitude should really be "I'm began the process of converting ...." or simply "I was baptized/Chrismated in 1998...."
Now, when people ask me, I simply say "I'm Orthodox."
I also am fond of, "I was a convert, I am a convert, and I hope to continue converting." (Romans 8:24a; 1 Cor. 1:18; Matt 10:22; 24:13)
The fact is we are all converts to the Faith whether we were born into it or not. Every day when we wake up we need to consciously take responsibility for our Faith and be reconverted to it.