Is midlife transition a midlife crisis?
I seemed to manage my 40th birthday with flying colors. I decided I would have a birthday party at a nice, smoke free pool hall. We celebrated with speeches, funny songs and a beautiful, custom cake. Lots of fun. I felt great.
I remember doing some thought work as that milestone birthday approached. I decided that I was pretty satisfied with where I was at that point in my life. I had a great husband, three amazing kids and a relatively creative job. No midlife transition crisis anywhere in sight.
The next 10 years were a bit more challenging.
-Marriages started crumbling.
-Friends and family started to die.
-My job was no longer as satisfying.
-I started noticing that I didn’t recover as quickly when I got hurt or sick.
-My skin started to change, as did my weight.
-I went from perimenopausal to menopausal.
-I realized I hadn’t taken the trips I thought I would have taken.
-My kids grew up so quickly, right before my eyes. I could see an empty nest on the horizon.
And most startling, every now and again I would suddenly realize how old I was and how I felt like life was passing me by.
I wondered if I had depression and even spoke to my doctor about it. I felt stuck. Unsure of what I wanted to do.
Quite frankly, I felt more trepidation as my 50th birthday approached.
Taking control of things, I proposed a trip with my best friend from childhood. She grabbed it and it turned about to be a great idea. Together, we made a list of 10 things we wanted to do in the near future.
We decided we should be looking forward with excitement rather than looking back with a sense of loss.
One thing I couldn’t get my head around was what I should do about my job. I was no longer content. But between feelings of fear and doubt, I just couldn’t seem to get my thoughts together enough to make a change.
And then the change was taken care of for me when I was unceremoniously laid off. Harsh as it was, it was a gift for sure. It was the change I needed to change my perspective about what strengths and gifts I had myself, and how I could capitalize on them and live more intentionally by figuring out what I really wanted to do.
And it – the lay off – happened the year I turned 50. How fabulously ironic!
The decade of midlife transition between 40 and 50 years old was harder for me than the lead up to 40 yrs old. So, was I having a midlife crisis?
I like to think of it more as midlife discontent. It led directly to a phase of “emerging midlife opportunity.” The transition started out as a period of not being content and big time reflection. I guess some would call that a crisis. But I didn’t see it as that bad. No tragedy. No harm. Just discontent. And then it led to lots of creative thinking and giant doors of opportunity opening.
Don’t get me wrong…
It was different.
It was uncomfortable.
It required change.
And I didn’t know what or how to go about making a change.
I think having a midlife crisis or not comes down to what you make it mean. (Click to Tweet)
“Crisis” means a difficult or dangerous situation that needs immediate attention (Merriam-Webster). It’s about a critical moment that, when not handled correctly, could go either way and get better or worse. With me, it was more about a phase or a decade rather than a particular moment.
And, I didn’t see it related to midlife transition; rather, I saw it as problems related to the parts rather than the whole. For example, I knew I had been at my job too long. I never thought of my discontent as a midlife issue. But I knew I needed change. I knew I was responsible for the change and no one was going to save me and make me happier.
It all comes down to your thoughts. One of the hardest questions is being honest with yourself about what you make middle age mean. And taking a look at how those thoughts make you feel and deciding if that’s how you want to feel at this point in your life.
Check out my FREE download, 1o surprisingly simple steps to bust out of your midlife funk!
Life is short. Too short for a crisis.