Coined in 1965 by Elliott Jacques, the ‘midlife crisis’ is a term that implies that getting older is a disease. It suggests that life is completely over when you hit midlife, and that -with just one crisis- you’re ‘over it’ and better.
I see the phrase ‘midlife crisis’ as just one more way that Western (and specifically American) culture sends a message that you aren’t good enough the way you are today. And I think it’s hogwash, because it’s not a midlife crisis – it’s a midlife revolution.
Midlife Crisis or Midlife Revolution?
Midlife for me has (so far) been about a great change in my life. In a way, my life has been ‘revolving’ and ‘evolving’ in ways I never thought it could. And in other ways, I feel like I’m truly coming home to settle in my skin and celebrate myself.
On Twitter, though, people using #midlifecrisis seem to assume that being in midlife is bad. Of course, there’s a humorous twist to each of the tweets; Twitter is for quick comments like those you might make at a cocktail party. The posts can be serious, snarky, and funny, like this one:
Pink unicorns in and of themselves are not a midlife crisis. But boy, society wants us to turn over and die already. The thinking is that at age 42, you’re definitely OLD, and most certainly too old for all sorts of things, including pink unicorn tops.
But buying a top with a pink unicorn isn’t a crisis, it’s a revolution. It’s a cry from your inner child, from the younger version of you, to really truly celebrate who you are.
It’s a shout to say, “This is who I am, world, get over it.” And if wearing pink unicorns is what you’re about, then do it with gusty.
Or, at least to let your silly side show. And the fact that you’re willing to follow this wild cry is a beautiful thing – revolutionary, even.
Because one thing this world definitely needs is to learn to (at least) appreciate if not downright celebrate aging and all that it brings, ammitright?
Aging Is Awesome
In the ‘aging is horrible’ category, there’s this lament from twenty-something @dylandonnelly12. Being just as close to 30 as you are 18 is definitely not a midlife thing, and it’s certainly no crisis. Being in high school sucked a lot more than being an adult – at least for me.
And while my 20s were fun, I don’t want to go back there (except for the ability to recover from having a couple of glasses of wine faster…now that I would like to get back. This song from Jamie Cullum sums up the 20-something experience… And it aint’ no midlife crisis.
Hair Color Is A Revolution
Going brunette after being blonde for 25 years is not a crisis, either. It’s a way to trust your inner feelings, and take a wild leap into a new version of you.
Right now I’m transitioning from a regular hair dye about the same color as my natural hair into a full-blown head of grey hair. It’s a wild leap to trust both my stylist and my inner instincts. It’s both frightening and exciting at the same time.
I’ve got all sorts of questions running around in my head: Who will I be with grey hair? What does that mean for my life? What color of grey is it going to be?
And I have all sorts of answers, too: I’m still me, and it means nothing – other than you’re getting older and gaining more wisdom. In some ways, the transition from brunette to grey is an outward manifestation of the amazing inner revolution that midlife has brought me through.
Wrinkles Are A Revolution
Wrinkles are part of life, too. They’re an indication that you’ve lived a full life.
And who says you have to be mature to be 50? Ask anyone who – around age 50 – has bought a fast sports car or dated someone *much* younger than them.
Heck, I don’t even know what ‘being mature’ means, anymore than I know what it means to be a ‘real’ adult.
I’m a firm believer that -if you are your own kooky, crazy self -you’ll be a-ok. And probably a whole lot happier, wrinkles and all.
The Power of Asking A Question
Oh, I ask this question every day, or almost every day. Well, at least once a week, month, and definitely more than once a year.
For me, the “what the heck am I doing” question is really the universe sending you the message that it’s time to change things up. And if you’re willing to ask the question, you’ve got to be brave enough to listen for the answer your soul offers.
The Midlife Revolution
Wikipedia defines a midlife crisis as “…a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 45–64 years old. The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of depression, remorse, and anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to current lifestyle.”
Midlife (and menopause in particular) is not a disease. It’s the opportunity to pause and take stock. And the time it takes to do that is up to you.
For me, the revolution started in earnest after returning from a spiritual journey to Peru. I came back into ‘my real life’ and was unhappy…to put it mildly. And in the ensuing years, I’ve set in motion things that will redefine my life – for the rest of my life.
I spent a year becoming a life coach. I learned Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy. Right now I’m working through a mindfulness certification so I can bring the practice to more people. All of these things are going to contribute to this new life I’m creating.
But it didn’t happen overnight, and it didn’t happy without some weeping and wailing – and hot flashes. I’ve described my midlife revolution as moving the ocean of my life into another basin one tablespoon at a time. Some of the drops of water don’t make the transition, and sometimes you pick up things along the way that you never knew you wanted.
Midlife is a time of transition. It’s a time to celebrate and cry, to laugh and mourn. And it’s a time to discover that wild heartbeat within you.