What the the symptoms of a Midlife Crisis?
If you are over the age of forty, I bet that you have Googled “midlife crisis”, wondering what the hell is going on with your thoughts, your body and your emotions. Some of us don’t even have midlife crisis feelings, but we check the “symptoms ” to see if one might be brewing!
Thinking about the word “midlife” we can’t help but pair it with the word “crisis”. A term coined back in 1965 when men worked, women were homemakers and most everyone medicated with martinis’ or antidepressants. It made perfect sense for those disillusioned folks to create a negative term to explain some of the daily dysfunction they felt.
There is debate about the accuracy of the midlife crisis experience and the stereotypes surrounding it. Some evidence exists that major milestones in aging bring a crisis of sorts. Midlife crisis is the big brother to the newly minted “Quarter Life Crisis”- the turmoil and emotional confusion that hits when a person turns 25 years old.
Wether or not we can totally identify with the idea of a midlife crisis, there are definite emotions and struggles that accompany this time frame, for both men and women. We all know the common midlife crisis stereotypes for men: affairs with younger women, fast fancy cars and trying to recover lost hair with growth products and bad toupees. Women in midlife crisis are often described as angry, giving up the pursuit and enjoyment of sex, and eventually falling into a type of low energy depression.
Sounds pretty sucky and a painful way to launch into the golden years, doesn’t it?
Let’s look at the core of the supposed midlife crisis. Where does it come from and how can we avoid it? While each person is unique, the following ideas will help you navigate the idea of a midlife crisis. Remember we all have a mixture of complexity and emotional baggage. Be prepared to take some additional steps to explore any confusing feelings.
Is it a midlife crisis? Or is it time to make some changes?
- Confidence- midlife often has a crisis of confidence. Crisis of confidence in yourself, wavering confidence in the life you have created and a lack of confidence in the future that awaits you. Many women emerge from the decades of raising kids and hardcore “momming” to realize that they have completely lost their identity. Cue midlife crisis feelings. The cure? Take time to course correct your life. Find something that is uniquely yours, not your husbands passion, not the leftovers from the kids hobbies, and feel free to give up that volunteer position you have been resenting. Hubby can find his own friends, the kids will be completely ignoring you soon ( in a loving adulting type way) and someone else can staff the soup kitchen. Choose for you- and only you.
- Comparison – I love social media. I do. Instagram is my jam. Social media is also the worst at making us feel second rate and completely ratchet. We all get stuck in the comparison trap, it is unavoidable. By the time we hit midlife most of us have bigger bodies and something is drooping ( neck, boobs, eyelids, ass). Our common enemy is gravity, no matter how we look on our Insta grid, something somewhere is drooping. Can we all agree to stop comparing houses, clothing and amazing bodies? Go get the face life or tummy tuck if it matters to you, but trust me, the rest of us are busy looking at our bingo bat wings in each picture we post.
- Cues- Pay attention to the cues in your soul. Midlife is a time of slowing down and becoming more reflective. It is also a time when we start to grieve the things we didn’t do, the soft regrets of giving up or missing out on things that mattered to us. Don’t be surprised if you start experiencing feelings of loss or hollowness. It is normal to feel unsettled in your soul at points in life. It does not mean you are having a midlife crisis! Don’t ignore your feelings, but take some time to analyze them. It is vey possible that you are longing for more of something in your life. More romance? More travel? More education? Take the time to figure out what is stirring inside of you and then create small steps to shift your life.
Honestly, I prefer the term “ midlife correction” over the negative connotation of midlife crisis. Go watch this a super informative and extra encouraging TED talk about the idea of age related crisis. It is completely worth the bit of time it takes, and will help you evaluate what you are feeling.
So there it is, a simple three steps to start evaluating a midlife crisis. Sure, some of the steps have the potential to be more complex, but try to use the suggestions as a starting point.
One of the great joys of being human is having the ability to think in nuanced ways, to plan the next adventure, to realize that it might be time to make some changes. Midlife allows us to stand on the hard won wisdom from our youth, and look forward to the future with anticipation of adventures to come.
And remember, midlife is not a crisis.