The midlife jokes at one’s expense keep on coming. Once you reach middle age, you become fair game for being stereotyped. Some of it is good humour and some of it raises my heckles.
The reference point for this rather ranty blog post is one of those wretched ‘Dear Aunt Whatever’ type letters which appeared in The Daily Mail. At this point I must declare, out of self-preservation of my dignity, that I do not read The Daily Mail. The article popped up in my ‘midlife crisis’ online Google feed. Anyway, the letter from an irate wife alleges that her midlife husband’s interest in going to the gym is an ‘obsession’ and is related to him having a midlife crisis.
While I have no idea about the truth or not about their marital situation, I do relate to the way an interest in keeping fit, looking good or anything else is immediately seen as a symptom of the midlife crisis. In some cases it may well be but it is the blanket attitudes adopted which I rail against. And, of course, the word ‘obsession’ is almost always thrown into the mix.
Pick up a new pursuit in midlife and people tease you about it. The insinuation being that you are trying to rekindle your youth.
I encountered this, what I can only term as, ‘societal push back’ recently. My story starts when I took up Hip Hop dance lessons. I love dancing and always have so I signed up for a new style. Dancing to ‘Saturday Night Fever’ decade after decade starts to lose an allure. I chose to learn Hip Hop. While dancing may not be a new pursuit for me, trying to align my limbs into something that is not a throwback to my disco days is hard work but, nevertheless, fun. Hip Hop involves a lot more coordinated ‘hop’ than ‘hip’. I still have not got to the stage of hopping and using my hips at the same time but I am trying. I definitely don’t look hip either while dancing. (The video is something that I also dance to between my online classes. Go on try it!)
Being told that my efforts to learn Hip Hop is ‘funny’ or ‘an obsessive effort to keep up with youngsters’ is more than irritating.
Anything which a midlifer takes up with a passion that isn’t a sedate activity like gardening or walking is immediately termed an ‘obsession’ by others. It is as if we are meant to do things slowly, peacefully and with trepidation because we have crossed a certain threshold in life. The subtext of the negative comments seem to be that taking something energetic up is a privilege for those who are younger.
Trying new things is part of being a midlifer. The world hasn’t remained static since we became midlifers. Instead, the world throws up new innovations and activities as it evolves. There is no ring fence around these with a sign saying, ‘Midlifers – keep out’. Embracing new ways is what, also, keeps us active and curious. I am all for it.
So midlifers, try and new things, keep your humour and wit about you and deflect any attempts to pigeon hole your efforts.