I posted last week on Facebook a status update saying “Midlife crisis is real”. I added an emoji with crying eyes to it, in reflection of my current emotion about it. To date, the post received 13 laughing emoji and 5 hugs emoji in reactions. And while it was in my intention to have this tone of sarcasm for my new hands-on discovery, in truth, these days, I feel the need of more hugs than laughs.
One of the commentators pointed out that calling it a crisis is an exaggeration and that we remain the same person no matter how long we stay on this earth. For those who know me, I am all for positive thinking and for ideas that make one feels better. I have always been and will always be (hopefully). Nevertheless, I have to admit, it is not as easy as it used to be. And I have to say, that mid-life feelings/emotions/state of mind has took me by surprise. I used to hear the term before, but never really thought about what it really means and how it affects the life of the individual. It is widely used to describe men who cheat on their wives with younger women, and that is mostly it when it comes to mainstream usage of the term. But in reality, it is not that simple. And while everyone talk about the difficulties of teenage, no one prepares us to the changes of midlife.
Last month I read a book titled “The Seven Ages of Death” for Dr. Richard Sheperd, which is by the way a very good read that I highly recommend, in which Dr. Richard who is a forensic pathologist takes on a journey highlighting the most common causes of death in each stage of human life. In mid-age, he shows, that it is actually suicide from depression or homicide from a partner. That should give us an idea about the seriousness of the changes on have to deal with in mid age.
Like teenage, there is a shift in identity and there is a shift in body image and self perception. And while, current trends of exercise and eating healthy, keep us feeling younger longer, we do feel that it is not like before. Our bodies changes, albeit slowly, but also our own definition of ourselves. Are we still young after reaching 40? The lines are blurred and the time is ticking. Lifestyle changes and future worries.
I was blessed to have a very smooth teenage. I didn’t actually feel it much and didn’t get myself into much trouble. Probably I had lived those images late in my teenage when I got to the university but that was a period when my parents where still young. I lived with them and I had their full love and support. The future didn’t worry me much.
Fast forward to mid-age, I lost my father last year due to covid, and I am still struggling with it. My mom is getting older and she is dealing with chronic pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I left home 10 years ago and I am living alone in a different city. I have to admit that losing a parent plays a big part in my identity confusion. I am a grown up yes, but I am in my mid-age too.
I have to highlight as well the overwhelming thoughts of life review. I guess mid-age is the time where we look back and assess what we have achieved so far and calculate how many years we still have ahead to give and achieve more. And I have to say that is mostly unsatisfactory to most of us. We compare ourselves to others and highlight our shortages and magnify our worries. For me, I look back at my writing career and feel satisfy for what I have done so far, but on the other hand, I am frustrated with my other career, my full time job that generates the money and sustains my living. I feel behind and I am not happy about it and don’t know what to do. Eventually, I would love to reach to a stage in my life where I am financially independent so that I focus on doing more writing, which I enjoy the most. And it worries me sometimes, if this would ever be possible.
Few weeks back, I was on a table full of friends around my age. One of my friends was talking about old days and how things have changed. I jumped to point out that what she’s going through is midlife crisis. Another friend of mine, who is my age, rushed to ask “who is going through midlife crisis?”. I replied “all of us on the table”.
I guess each of us is dealing it differently or experiencing it in a different way. But mid-age is a period of change. But to conclude on a positive note, while change is always hard, it usually leads to better things.
Bring it on!
Stay calm and keep moving!