Why is it so blinking difficult to get people to talk about the midlife crisis? Bring the two words up and everyone, mentally, crosses the road to avoid talking about it. If forced to, people will go round and round in circles, like a lost driver looking for the right exit on a roundabout, before jumping at a deflection technique to avoid talking about the midlife crisis.
‘Midlife crisis’ is the most Googled word in relation to ‘midlife’. There are acres of research on the midlife crisis. Even celebrities admit to having it. But bring the topic up and normal midlife folk will look at you as if you are something the cat has dragged in. Nobody, apart from celebrities and I, will own up to suffering from it. ‘It’s a myth,’ is another common response.
In these situations, I feel a throwback to the ‘Baywatch Days. Everyone made fun of Pamela Anderson while her stardom rose and rose as did her fortune. It must have been aliens who were not only watching Baywatch and turning it into a global hit but buying her merchandise too. In modern day, it’s the ‘Katie Price’ effect. Everyone professes to dislike her but she is still in the news, every week.
We talk about mental health, strokes, and a myriad of other health issues but not the midlife crisis. Yet, if you look at the list of symptoms, they are life changing ones. Personally speaking, I have been wracked with ‘intense feelings of regret’. Instead of hanging out at the Camden Palace, I wish I had spent my time more productively investing in my future. If I had, I could have retired by now rather than be working very long hours. By contrast, a close friend who didn’t hang out at nightclubs and spent his nights studying for a degree after his day job is now well primed to retire into a comfortable sunset. Memories of fun nights at 80s themed nightclubs don’t make for good midlife bedfellows.
The midlife crisis makes sense if you think about it. You reach a certain age, and you wonder why you didn’t do X, Y or Z that would have led you down a different path. Examining the causality of life is perfectly normal. We do it over so much else like our careers and parenting but as soon as the label ‘midlife crisis’ is stuck on this thought process people run a mile.
To examine your decisions and analyse your choices which have led to where you are now is the evolution of life. Reaching a certain age and looking backwards is perfectly normal. The midlife crisis, more than anything, is real. Dismissing it robs you off the chance of a retrospective look at your life. If you don’t look backwards sometimes, how do you learn before moving forwards?