Mid-life….crisis or celebration?
When I turned 40, I remember thinking “OK this is fine!” - and celebrated with a wonderful party and danced the night away. But as I neared my 41st birthday, it suddenly hit me that this ageing thing doesn’t stop! The next milestone was 50 and that’s old. I mean, as a teenager, I thought my parents were ancient in their fifties!
By this time, I’d already lost a few friends to early deaths, and although I think I’ve always had an awareness of my own mortality, the thought of waving goodbye to my youth was really un-nerving. At first, I actively resisted it, otherwise known as the mid-life crisis! And as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, my eating disorder hurtled out of control, getting by on just Marlboro Lights and coffee. Life was happening to everyone except me; I had pressed the self-destruct button.
I often wondered what the mid-life crisis is all about; whether it’s physical or emotional. Sometime in our lives, most of us take a moment to evaluate what we have or haven’t done with the time we’ve been given. I’m not entirely convinced that this ‘crisis’ actually happens to everyone “mid-life”, but what does seem to occur at some stage - is a reaction to a fear of the future. One asks oneself existential questions such as “what am I doing with my life?” or “have I done enough?” - or of course the one I hear the most, “have I done what was expected of me?”
Our conditioned mind (what we are taught to believe, to aspire to, to be), at some point grapples with who we truly are. If you’ve had a strict conditioning from parents, teachers, peers, life can be extremely challenging. Equally, if you’ve been neglected through childhood, as an adult you may strive constantly for approval. But approval doesn’t exist, there isn’t anyone better than you, we are all imperfect, we all have our faults.
But you can find joy in reaching half-way; the second half of your life can certainly fulfil you – but only if you choose it. Sometimes we might have to hit the bottom before we get back up, but when I was at my lowest point, I had an epiphany. I realised that I had a choice. I could suffer from my past experiences - or try and take the lessons from it all. In other words, we can continue to suffer - or be wiser, and give ourselves a chance to be true to our real selves.
Everyone deserves a second chance, another shot; no matter what you may’ve done in your past – and as the old saying goes “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”. Don’t see yourself as getting old if you’ve reached your half-way point; consider instead what the next half will bring.