6.07.2016

Official Diagnosis: Mid-Life Crisis

Rambling Thoughts On Mid-Life Discontent

When I was 39, I had a strong desire to go surfing and find a 23 year old boyfriend. Surfing had always interested me but the much younger boyfriend was only something to joke about as I contemplated my 40th birthday. I even went as far as saying I was having a mid-life crisis. Silly and over-dramatic for sure, but I didn't take myself or my imagined mid-life crisis seriously at all as in reality, I knew everything was fine By the time my birthday came around, I was preparing for a trip to the Pyrenees with surfing and the strapping young lad far from my mind. Life was moving along smoothly and I was content.


Fast forward to 2016. I am now closer to 50 than 40. I survived two layoffs during the economic crisis, but finally managed to leave working in the NGO sector, as I had threatened to do for years, and move my career in a totally different direction. Once again I know everything - relationships, work, play, my health - is fine. Work is not my life and I have come to terms with the fact it is inevitable for now. I still (mostly) love living in Bozeman and until I find my retirement villa in Europe, I'm staying put. Getting up and moving would be more trouble than it's worth. I know that I live in a place that suits my lifestyle and it would be hard to find this elsewhere. Despite everything, I find myself restless and looking for a change.

I already have the tattoo
Last week a growing sense of dread washed over me. The days that proceeded found me zipping from work to home to a bike ride to my radio show to dealing with household and garden tasks to socializing and entertaining and on and on and on. While I have a secure job, it is a lot more of a "daily grind" than the previous 15 years I spent working for various NGOs and often times my routine feels never ending with no down time.

We have so much technology today and it is a constant presence in our lives. This was supposed to make our lives easier and save us time, and in many ways it does. However, I find myself and those around me are busier that ever. How is this possible? Although I make a conscientious effort to avoid being over-scheduled, it often feels there is not enough time during the day to get everything done.

Millions of thoughts race through my already busy brain. This is not how it's supposed to be! What is going on here? Could this be a mid-life crisis? How can I cope?

In contemplation, I started by doing what we all do these days, the all-telling Google search.  After typing "mid-life crisis" into the search engine, I found that much has been written on the subject. On website after website, I found one write-up after another that described my situation perfectly. There were your typical check-list and bulleted articles to help the reader assess their situation. I read through one of the lists:
  • Boredom with life, CHECK
  • Feeling restless and wanting to do something completely different, CHECK
  • Confusion about who you are or where your life is going, CHECK
  • Asking, Is this all there is?, CHECK
I said yes to a few others as well.

So there you have it. It's official. I am having a mid-life crisis.

Now what to do about it? Lucky for me much has been written about coping with mid-life discontent and if I'm to believe what I read, plenty of people are going through exactly what I am experiencing. One article even went as far as to say that a mid-life crisis can start as early as in our  20s and last for as long as 40 years! At least I made it through my 20s and 30s unscathed.

We all go through periods of discontentment and feeling lost and unsure of ourselves. Social media can make it easy to feel that "everyone else" is living the dream life free from work and full of pursuit of their passions. What is wrong with me? Where did things fall apart? We are guilty of this from time to time but deep down we know it's not true. Everyone has their shit to deal with so why do we let social media shenanigans and other trivialities upset up?

I'm trying to cope with my mid-life crisis and am mostly succeeding. Some days are harder than others, especially since I already feel so overwhelmed. How am I supposed to fit mindfulness and self-reflection into my already jam-packed days? Still, I try. I copied this list from one of the articles and fortunately for me many of these things I already do regularly:
  1. Explore, accept and share your feelings
  2. Allow yourself to reflect about your life regularly
  3. Devote extra time to your partner and rekindle your relationship
  4. Set new goals and develop new hobbies
  5. Volunteer
  6. Take care of your mental health (join a group or seek out a therapist if necessary)

~Just writing this post has made me feel better. I'll make it through. I will survive...

If you have thoughts to share on surviving a mid-life crisis, please feel free to share them in the comments sections of this post.