The Secret of the Mid-life Crisis


I was at a group dinner when a cute, sweet girl (I say girl because she’s a good 10-15 years younger than me) made a comment that has burned its way into my soul. I just can’t forget anything about how she said, regarding someone getting a tattoo, “it’s like they are having a mid-life crisis”. Her eyes gleamed as the snarky words slid out of her pretty face.

I kind of remember just hating her for maybe 3.5 seconds after that.

It got me thinking, though. I’ve been thinking a lot about the maybe mythical, but absolutely mystical, mid-life crisis. I’m pretty sure I’ve started it. I’m pretty sure I don’t mind at all.

The secret of the mid-life crisis is that it’s not a crisis. Well, or maybe it is. Let’s look at how Google defines it:

cri·sis
  1. a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
    ehhh… I’m not buying it. Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs, not just midlife. 
    • a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.
      Ok. I agree with this part. Many important decisions must be made at this point in life. 
    • the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.
      I kind of like this viewpoint, too. But let’s change “disease” to “life”. Yes, that makes sense

Let’s talk about what getting to mid-life means. And yes, at 38 years old, I can talk about being “midlife”. I am here. This is it. It’s not that scary.

It means I don’t have to wait anymore. 

Let’s talk about that tattoo that was referenced above. Who the hell cares if a 40yr old mother with a career decides to get her first tattoo? No one, that’s who. Actually, I guess that cute 23 year-olds do, but who the hell cares what they think? The most amazing thing about getting older is that you start to understand that YOU, and only YOU, truly have complete command over what YOU do. It’s a glorious revelation. Do I want to start traveling? Ok! Do I want to start paying off my house? Ok! Do I want to have a family? Ok! Do I want to be alone all my life? Ok!

I don’t have a tattoo. But I want one. Ok!

It means I’ve stopped living for you.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. It simple means that my sole purpose in life is NOT making sure you are satisfied with me. It’s making sure I’m satisfied with me. Who I am is my number one priority.

This applies to my children. My husband. My family. My friends. Coworkers. Strangers at the grocery store. Gym buddies. Anyone. You will like me better when I like me better. Guaranteed.

It means my time has a countdown that I can feel

I can feel my age. I feel it in my bones and my ligaments and my skin. I see it in the reflection of the window shops and the roots of my hair. My death is not something in a storyline that seems like it will never come. It’s a very real, very present shadow that walks beside me every day. I have never been afraid of growing older, but now, as I see it, it spurs me to not wait for ANYTHING. The “crisis” of decision-making is expedited as the crow’s-feet grow deeper.

It means that there is no time left to not love it all.

Your lover and your babies. Your career and your pets. Your hobbies and your crafts. Your vacations and your daily routine. Make it yours, and make it your love. And if it’s not, change it.

I’m not condoning leaving your spouse and killing your cat. I’m suggesting investing in and slowly curating a life that you love. All aspects. Some people might think you are having a crisis, some people may recognize that you are finally being YOU. But it doesn’t matter really, because you no longer care what they think.

There is a song by Nathaniel Rateliff that brings my soul alive every time I hear it. It reminds me of half a life. Half a life spent waiting to be thinner. Waiting to be more charming and smarter. Waiting for everyone to like me. Waiting for me to like me. I’m so over waiting. Mid-life is not tragic and it’s not sad, but it is a crisis of recovery.

Recover who you were when God whispered you into life. That is where we LIVE.

Think of all the time time time
You get to know it
Think about the world I found spinning awry
Remember all the clothes I wore to hide it from you
You said let’s take the long walk home tonight

Think of all the falling down and the hiding under
Think of all the time time time time time

Think of all the hours I spent in constant reflection
Well it gets you down but, it don’t make it right
I made it my personal intervention
What a waste of time time time time time

I got a feeling I, I can’t get over
Maybe all we had has always been right
Think of all the love you gain when you send it over
Think of all the wool I’ve spun to be here tonight
Think of all the time time time time time

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