There are so many ways in which one comes to the realisation that one is gripped by the midlife crisis. Mine was a gradual and dawning one experience. The alarm clock would go off. I would struggle to wake up. Getting out of bed was the second struggle within a space of five minutes of my first struggle which was to summon the will to start another new day. My nights never felt restful and I wanted to keep sleeping on. That wasn’t an option because I needed to get to work and earn a living to pay the bills.
Every single day felt like an eternity of restlessness, lost dreams and utter ennui. Sometime in 2018, it began to dawn on me that I was possibly suffering from a midlife crisis. ‘What me?’ was my initial reaction.
Come on, no one wants a label slapped on them that denotes some sort of ailment stereotyped especially with silly jokes and photofits like buying fast cars or going bungee jumping for the thrills.
What I was experiencing was something deeper. It was producing seismic shifts in my philosophical attitude to life. I was questioning my purpose in life and the way in which I lived it out. After doing some research into the midlife crisis, I began to embrace the realization that I was afflicted by it. I discovered that the commonplace jokes about the midlife crisis were actually a cover for something that was far deeper.
The more I looked into it, the more I began to realise that this phase in life need not be a totally negative experience. Others had successfully used their midlife crisis phase to make positive changes. But that’s another blog post. For now, I urge you to look at the symptoms and reflect on whether you have the midlife crisis.
I hesitate about using words like ‘suffering from the midlife crisis’ or ‘afflicted by the midlife crisis’ because, by using such phrases, there is a suggestion that negativity comes embedded with the experience and overrides everything else.
Yes, it is a difficult phase and it can be an excruciating experience emotionally but I have used it to turn those parts of my life that were stagnant and devoid of fun into something inspiring or done away with it completely. But the transition to change starts with recognising what the midlife crisis is.
One of the symptoms of the midlife crisis is apathy. Defined as a ‘lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern’, apathy is a word used to describe a feeling of a general lack of connectedness with your own life and the wider world.
According to an article titled, ‘What is a midlife crisis and can I resolve it?’, apathy adds a layer of complexity when midlifers are grappling with the big questions in their lives. Trying to answer questions like,’What is the meaning of life?, is hard enough at the best of times without adding an emotional layer teeming with lack of interest.
Apathy is the equivalent of feeling ‘blah‘, The solution, it is suggested in the article, is to forget the past and move forward. My response to this is that this is easier said than done. My current life would not be quite so fulfilling if I had done just that. Instead, a period of deep reflection and drawing up new plans and goals was what set me on my new midlife phase. I didn’t just feel apathy for no reason. It was unraveling that realization and grappling with the fact that my past mistakes were weighing heavily on me, which is what helped me.
This is one of a series of blog posts that will look at the symptoms of the midlife crisis.