The Crisis of a Mid-Life Crisis

If you were having a mid-life crisis how would you know? I mean, lets assume that the stereotypical red Ferrari, gold neck-chain, and leave your partner for a younger model cliché isn’t applicable to how you feel, and for the most part, what once seemed of the utmost importance seems to become meaningless as time passes. Is this maturity, or immaturity, and is that merely a matter of perspective? Let’s perhaps say that a 180 degree conversion in how you once viewed life occurs, is this the precursory alarm bell to a mid-life crisis, and what are the rules to a mid-life crisis anyway? Can it happen at age thirty-three? I had no definitive answer to this question as my childhood,  forever friends attentively questioned me last Friday night. Curled up and comfy on the couch, the others awaiting my reply, I simply offered a, “Yes, I don’t know. Maybe. I mean, how would you know?”

With just reason, historically the mention of the words “mid-life-crisis” holds such negative connotations, suggesting selfishness, irresponsibility and immaturity. I’m inclined to think that it need not be a negative thing that sends those around you into a concerned frenzy, but more so it’s the manner in which it is dealt with.  I can hear the words of my husband now, “If we’re going to have a mid-life crisis, let’s have it together. Let’s together become fitter and sexier versions of ourselves, then lets run away with the others better self”.  Yes! He actually said this. “Let’s buy the red sports car and joy ride in it with each other like teenagers, and if we’re going to throw away money trying to woo the opposite sex in the pursuit of feeling young and uninhibited, let’s spend it on each other, not an dating website”.  Now this philosophy I can support in theory, and whilst I love his thinking, and can see the merits of indulging this notion,  we are both too responsible to live out this text book scenario of a middle aged melt down, and fortunately discerning enough to acknowledge that “this” moment in time is a very real feeling. We are also wise enough to reflect on what is to gain from this age old human response that seems to disrupt our lives so.

I’d like to suggest that a mid-life crisis may be a natural subconscious form of human progression. That catalyst in life which allows for great self-evaluation and introspection at the half way mark. That moment in time, where what was once valued, esteemed, and pursued is now questionable. It’s almost as if we have an inbuilt default mechanism that allows us the opportunity to self correct, to revise and improve upon the second half of our life, if for some reason we’re disappointed with the outcome of our current situation. Sadly, as a silent observer of many around me, the intense emotions that often accompany some of these epiphanies can cloud one’s judgement, and before we realise it we’ve bought that red Ferrari, along with a debt-shackle accessory.

My thirty-fourth birthday is a matter of weeks away, and I am beyond excited. I love birthdays! The celebration, the exuberance and the awareness that with every birthday marked is in fact a blessing of more life lived, more memories made, and yes more wrinkles, which I now like to consider as just ‘story-lines’, they testify to the life lived. So in a matter of weeks, undoubtedly a new ‘story-line’ will emerge and along with it I’m faced with a T-intersection dilemma. One sign post points towards the path of wealth creation, building investment options, such as property or shares, debt reduction and the elusive dream of leaving a legacy. The other post signals in the opposite direction, towards the path of counter intuitive wisdom, of make every moment count, and learning via experience.

Fixed at this juncture point, and deliberating like a timid swimmer on a cold day, I feel like a punter fumbling with a heads or tails coin toss. ‘Heads’, plan for the future at the risk of missing today, ‘Tails’ embrace today at the risk of missing the future. So where do questions such as this leave me? With more questions, but thankfully this has lead to more opportunity for clarity. Have you ever considered how the very things that we strive for as our security, such as home ownership and a solid career progression within one company begins with the right motives, yet a few years in and those very walls of security that we sought to build actually become our own prison. Inhibiting us from taking risks and opportunities. Placing restrictions and expectations on our freedom as we strive to adhere to “the list” on our preconceived life plan. Robbing of us the ability to say ‘yes’ for fear of losing all that we have worked for. Or even more simply, deceptively stealing our priorities from things that last, like family time, education, experiences and memories. Instead, we sell out unknowingly for the illusion of enriching our lives with things. Somewhere along the journey towards living the dream, I like many have been deceived and have become shackled to our securities. To our mortgage, cars, and country club memberships. We have unknowingly embarked upon a crusade of collecting “things”. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, some “things” are fabulous, but the peril of this pursuit is when we unknowingly no longer pause to consider at what cost are we sacrificing these “things” for.

So I ask myself, “Do I want to collect things, or do I want to collect moments?” Thanks to Hawaii, Paris and recent everyday adventures within Australia, unequivocally my answer is “MOMENTS”.

In the context of my life, it seems that the wealth creation versus make a memory sign posts, are a metaphoric representation. They symbolise selling my house that has taken the best part of a decade to save for and build, and consequently to post pone wealth creation for a few more years, whilst health, time and the blessing of ‘Today’ is upon my door step. To shift the family from Australia in favour of an adventure abroad. To create a memory. Choose your own adventure. Learn via experience. Live a dream.

What is the one thing that if you knew you were dying right now would you do differently? The things that would leave you slightly jaded if time wasn’t one your side? Driving along towards to coast I await the answer from my husband, to which he pragmatically responds, “But I am dying. Every moment we live is a moment closer to that day”. He is not morbid, nor is he fearful, quite simply he is realistic. He is right.

I want a house to be my home, and not my prison. Pursuing ‘moments’ and no longer ‘things’, and if that is indicative of a mid-life crisis it would seem that I’m having one – are you?

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  1. Great post! I love this line, “It’s almost as if we have an inbuilt default mechanism that allows us the opportunity to self correct, to revise and improve upon the second half of our life, if for some reason we’re disappointed with the outcome of our current situation.” I recently left my job as a corporate lawyer for a one-year sabbatical to reevaluate and rediscover what’s really important to me. So far, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Colleen! It’s so encouraging to hear that your decision to make the change is in fact proving to be the success you’d hoped for! Societal and cultural expectations are so paradoxical when it comes to pursuing dreams. On one instance we are told that “The world is your oyster” and in the same breath when we decide to go oyster finding, we are told by those around us, “Get your head out the clouds – it’s a pipe dream” etc. Wishing you every joy on this new journey that you’re on.

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