Midlife Crisis or Rejuvenation
I’ve been pondering about midlife crises as of late and here is my epiphany. We’ve all heard stories about people who “have jumped off the deep end” and done crazy things in their 40s and 50s. Some by Porsches or date people half their age and there are yet others who quit their long-term careers and strike off on a completely different path. These are the people who bear the brunt of whispered conversations about how they’ve lost their mind or are having a midlife crisis. But what if it wasn’t a crisis? What if it were a subtle rejuvenation?
Perhaps these people wake up in the middle of their lives and realize that slowly, over the years, they have morphed into someone completely incommensurable from their younger self. We all know how work, family, and life obligations tend to push out a lot of the lofty dreams we had as twentysomethings. When we are young we feel like the whole world is ours for the taking and that we can achieve anything. We set goals and, as we work to achieve those goals, we make compromises within our lives and within ourselves. We find that we must change in order to reach some of those goals. Fewer hours are spent on idle things such as hobbies, spending time with friends and family, and indulging in self-care. Evenings and weekends that were once filled with plenty of downtime are now overwhelmed with commitments. What used to be time just for you is now time filled with running the children to extracurricular activities or working longer hours at your job to meet deadlines or income requirements.
The tan young man with an athlete’s body or the gorgeous young woman with long flowing hair has transformed into someone quite different when you look in the mirror. Maybe the eyes that used to sparkle with all sorts of dreams now have dark circles under them. You have seemingly blinked and twenty or thirty years of your life have passed you by. Then you start to feel panic tightening your chest. What happened to that young person that had such lofty aspirations? Why did so many of your dreams pass by unfulfilled? Who is this person looking out at you from the mirror? Your mind whirls with thoughts about all the things that you had wanted to do or obtain within your lifetime. The years feel like they are quickly passing you by and you must take action! And that is when the sports car shows up in your driveway or you divorce your spouse of 25 years. You feel that you must grasp at every fleeting moment before it is too late.
Not everyone goes through a midlife crisis and why is that? If you take a good look at the people who don’t, I think you will find that most of those people have stayed congruent to the person that they’ve always been. These might be the people who found a way to balance their dreams and aspirations with the reality of life and all of its commitments. They are also the people who have listened to their inner voice and remained connected to themselves, even through all the twists and turns of life. They have found a way to balance all of life’s commitments and changes with valuable self-care.
So, how can those of us lingering between a midlife crisis and a lifetime of self-care move forward? I say with rejuvenation! Each day is a new chance for all of us to revise our life’s journey. We don’t have to make such drastic changes in our lives as to bring on the whispers from friends and family, but it isn’t too late to start taking care of ourselves either. If you have started feeling those little pangs of panic from a life that is streaming by, breathe deep, and take a moment to recall the things in earlier years that brought you a sense of purpose or that you most enjoyed. The activities that have quietly slipped away as the years have gone by. Could you work some of those things into your life? Maybe take an evening painting class if you used to spend your free hours immersed in acrylics with the music up and your creativity flowing. Or simply carve out a couple of hours an evening or on the weekend for you to tap back into your inspiration. Give yourself permission to do some of those lost activities that made you feel full of life! Though, I suggest that if you lived to party when you were younger that you might, perhaps, find a healthier alternative such as a class on wine tasting before you freshen up your beer pong skills.
It really doesn’t matter what restorative activity you choose, it just matters that you reconnect with what “filled you up” when you were younger. Just because we move on through the years doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice who we innately are, nor do we have to succumb to a midlife crisis wherein we make drastic changes to our lives. Reconnect with your inner self by making little changes for the rejuvenation of your life.