Midlife Ruminations

Describe your midlife self in 5 words

Having to describe yourself must be one of life’s excruciating moments. It is always easier to see the best and worst in others which is why a good gossip is so satisfying. By contrast, the way one sees oneself varies from day to day and, sometimes, hour to hour. On menopausal days, I am devoid of humour and probably would use a black and white lens to decipher myself. On good days, I see myself as a vibrancy of colour or a cloud bouncing along happily.

I am a fan of Nora Ephron, the late author and journalist, who wrote with witty frankness about age and the process of ageing. Quite notably, she wrote about how one’s insights change with age. Nora Ephron (see quote below) used to play a game whereby she would describe herself in five words. She started off doing this in her 20s and wrote descriptions of her status and accomplishments. This changed over the passage of time. What is interesting is that her self-description morphed into a reflection of her life’s priorities. It made me wonder whether, at some stage in the ageing process, the values and relationships which we hold dear trump self-interest.

I decided to put myself through the Nora Ephron test. This is what I think I would said. In my twenties, I would have put: ambitious, graduate, married, cool and regular traveller. In my thirties I would have said: ambitious, mother, blogger, dreamer and modest. In midlife I choose: mother, Christian, communitarian, considerate and humorous.

The act of self-reflection is an act of consciousness. It requires you to chart yourself over the decades. It raises questions about your values, your self-worth and where you draw happiness from. As we approach the end of a year, I encourage you to think about what five words you would use to describe yourself in midlife.

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