What is it about “mid-life crisis” that has all of us wanting to hide under the bed and avoid it at all costs?
Maybe we’ve heard handfuls of stories from people who felt embarrassed, depressed, overly-consumed with their children, or missing “the good old years.” Or we’ve heard stories of people who get inspired during this life-phase to pick up a new hobby, to fall in love, to get out of the house, to smile on a more regular basis and we don’t think that it’s possible for us.
Whatever the reason, isn’t it crazy that we isolate this particular phase of our lives and assume we’ll dread it?
We approach this phase of life as a marker for getting old, when really, it’s just like any other time. In practice, you take it day by day. What if these kinds of transitions—the ones that we deem less exciting than others—didn’t have to be so overwhelming?
What if, instead, we talked about this aspect, this “mid-life crisis,” from the perspective of enrichment? “How can I enrich my life, now that I know what I know and have seen what I’ve seen. What are some significant ways I can enhance my quality of life?”
What if we called it, “mid-life calling,” and encouraged one another to be brave, to try something new, to start over in some way, to get in touch with those aspects of ourselves we may have ignored, repressed or didn’t consider worthy enough for our acting upon them.
What if we could ask ourselves the question, “What would I do if I had more free time, more resources?” Could we do this without feeling guilty or unworthy like somehow, we’re wrong for wanting more out of life or putting ourselves and our dreams first?
What if we could ask ourselves, “What kind of practice(s) can I start that would give me a deeper sense of purpose and meaning in my life?” and hold space for our loved ones and friends to do the same.
Maybe working as an entrepreneur, receptionist, saleswoman, designer, housekeeper or stay at home mom wasn’t completely fulfilling. Maybe we spent too much time trying to please others or support our families.
We probably never stopped and ask, “What makes me happy? What do I value? How do I want to make a difference in other people’s lives?”
Embrace the Changes
Seeing this phase of life as a problem or a crisis implies that there’s something inherently wrong with it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s probable that we’ll all begin to question our past choices someday. We might have a shift in what we believe to be our identity or even go through some bodily changes. But that doesn’t mean that we’re in a crisis.
Questioning and reflecting are really important aspects of developing a rich and deep inner life. And making changes (switching jobs, retiring, moving, divorcing, etc.) are not wrong either. It just means we have new choices to make, new things to learn, and maybe new places to see or people to meet along the way.
In terms of bodily changes, there are people of all ages who are sick and suffering. Just because we spend more time on the planet doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to suffer more or that we’ll even notice bodily changes at all. There are yogis and bikers and swimmers in their 80s still practicing every day.
Switching our perspectives around this phase of life from “crisis” to “calling” means we’d have an open invitation to explore what it is that we feel called to do. Is it pottery? Baking? Hiking? Volunteer work? A new career path? Travel? Family time?
Whatever it is for you, you’re free to discover it without the guilt, the confusion, or the stigma that you’re supposed to feel bad or that you’re starting from scratch.
Bring your experiences, your joys, your values to the table and start noticing what could be calling you deep down. Is there something maybe you’ve known for a long time you wanted to learn or do but have been too shy or scared or uncertain to pursue?
Know that you even have the capacity to live more aligned with your needs and goals, because you’ve spent a lot of years learning, experiencing, gaining wisdom and a stronger sense of self than you probably had in your twenties.
And with the internet, it’s so easy to find groups of people with similar interests to meet up with. We can share stories and learn new skills—even find a new job or some volunteer work along the way.
Instead of mid-life being a time destined to produce anxiety, remorse, depression, we could instead look back on our lives with an open mind. We could be ready to absorb the lessons we’ve learned and embrace what makes us excited to pursue now.
Maybe our old chapters coming to a close doesn’t constitute an end. Maybe, it’s just a beginning.
About the Author:
Aly Miller is a Salt Lake City based life & health coach, a yoga instructor, energy worker and writer. She teaches women how to unlock their personal power and reach their goals. Learn more about her work and get connected at www.risingwomanspirit.com or Instagram.