The Universe has been sending me a few signals lately that I need to return to the original theme of my blog, namely the journey through middle age. OK, Universe, I hear you and as always I am your humble servant.
Firstly, the ladies at Lipstick Rhetoric wrote two wonderful blog posts about middle life. In one they ask whether a mid-life crisis is tied to paid employment and whether as a result it is only a recent phenomenon in women and in the other they write about a mid-life career crisis and whether this is attributable to the general midlife crisis phenomenon. Both of these posts resonated and I believe that the more people talk about this topic the better. All of us may be pioneers in our own lives and journeys, but none of us are pioneers in the wider sense. Ask enough questions, read and hang out long enough and you will come across those experiencing the same feelings, asking the same questions. Let’s use this wonderful technology to laugh, communicate and support each other and I don’t just mean the women. Men, your input into this issue is important, valuable and extremely necessary. I know it’s difficult for men to overcome the notion that they must remain strong, but men, let me tell you, there is no weakness in talking about this. Rather there is an honesty and level of self awareness that should be applauded. After all, that is the first step to change.
Furthermore, the only certainty in life besides death and taxes is that nothing is actually certain. Anything can change in a blink of an eye. To me, middle age, more than any other stage, teaches you how to deal with uncertainty to prepare you for the trials and tribulations you are bound to encounter in old age. It teaches you to question more deeply and that good planning will only get you so far. It gives you the confidence necessary to deal with the consequences of your decisions and to shed those parts of your skin that no longer work for you. Those that use middle age wisely can be reborn. Those that don’t will continue to struggle. Wisdom will usually require some tough decision and facing of fears.
The second sign came from an article in our popular press over the weekend on how some Australian high-profile women are positively facing middle age. The article focused on women aged between their early forties to their early fifties, which of itself was an eye opener for me. I always wrongly held the notion that mid-life crisis point was only reached from the age of forty five but I suspect that soon we will be dropping the word “mid” from “mid-life crisis” and that more and more people will start their questioning and catharsis at an earlier age. The impetus for this comes from several areas – there are many more life style options that are available today and society in general has a more tolerant view on people embracing lifestyles and workstyles that are not considered to be conventional, if not totally alternate. In that sense, these are exciting times.
I agree with the article that there are a lot of positives about middle age. I admit to a degree of trepidation at turning forty after I was too exhausted preparing for children when I turned thirty. But as my forties have worn on in terms of physicality, self-confidence and energy, I am embracing this decade like none before. After decades of trying, I finally have my weight under control and am embracing everything I can about finally being in proportion, including self confidence. What joy to have finally arrived at this point!!
I have concluded that middle age is that stage when empowerment meets confusion, rather than a number. There is no doubt the search of answers can be disconcerting, particularly if you had absolute direction to this point. The difficulty lies in realigning your life’s compass, after all you know so much more now than when you initially set it. True north, though, is still true north!
The hard part for me is finding the time and space to strategize about my own life whilst still being there for my family. These are the absolute truths I have discoved about middle age:
- rebirth is not easy
- strategizing takes time
- you can’t strategize effectively with other noise in your head
- you can’t turn the Titanic around on a dime
- you can’t turn the Titanic around without affecting the position of other nearby boats
- a mid-life crisis is harder on the partner not going through it.
The reference to “Titanic” here is as a symbol for a large ship, not a sinking one!
Like I said at the start of my blog, I am not a self-help guru and I have no wish to preach at anyone. I hope by outlining my thoughts and feelings about my own journey others may feel less alone, less disconcerted. There is much strength to be gained from solidarity and discussion. And if a friendship or two develops along the way, so much the better.
Have you discovered any truths or insights about mid-life? I would love to hear from you.