It starts with wondering what your purpose in life is. That transmutes into looking around you and wondering where time has gone. The underlying sentiment behind this is regret. Time gone by represents missed opportunities. Suddenly, your caring responsibilities have receded either because the kids have flown the nest or the elderly in your life have died. Both happened to me within a year and a bit. For others, there may be different triggers such as losing their job or a dissatisfaction with the way their career has turned out. You wonder what to do with yourself.
‘By the time you reach middle age, it’s likely that you will have experienced some trauma or loss. The death of a family member, a significant change in your identity, divorce, physical or emotional abuse, episodes of discrimination, loss of fertility, empty nest syndrome, and other experiences may have left you with a persistent sense of grief. You may find yourself questioning your deepest beliefs and your most confident choices.’
The midlife crisis is real.
I constantly get push back from people who prefer a ‘positive’ narrative. The whole trend towards positivism is, both, helpful and destructive but not in parallel. You can move from one to another, from being despondent to becoming hopeful, but you can’t exist in both states at once. More importantly, it is hard to move from having spectacular change in your life to a state of elation about new possibilities without experiencing a sense of fear and sadness. The whole push from the self-help industry which discounts a phase of transition as a place of anxiety is entirely reductive of a lived experience.
Nora Ephron once said, “You are not going to be you — fixed, immutable you — forever.” We all change, and a midlife crisis is evidence.
Deal with the midlife crisis in a way that represents what you are seeking in life. Creativity is important to me. With more time on my hands, I put my creative juices to work by starting this blog. Helping others is a personal ethos. Putting messages out about the midlife crisis will, I hope, help others. I also have a stack of books on the subjects. Reading about other people’s experiences helps normalise my feelings.
I refuse to accept that the midlife crisis is a myth. A lived experience, as mine is, cannot be discounted. So, if you are experiencing what you perceive to be a midlife crisis please remember that you are not alone.