Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mid-Life Doldrums: Shake Things Up… Carefully

Many of us are in that dreaded state of middle age. And middle age brings all kinds of angst: doubt and boredom and disappointment and resentment and… well, you get the idea. It’s a tough phase of life to be sure. These are the years we watch our parents grow old and friends begin to pass away, and we finally understand we are not invulnerable. For many, this is when we realize life is not unfolding as we had hoped, that our career has not gone the way we expected, that our children are not perfect, and that (this is the worse of all) we are not the person we had hoped to become.

Some of us accept these disappointments with graceful resignation and just press on, some grow sad and grieve, and others become bitter. We often fight back against these doldrums by making changes in our life, by shaking things up to try to recapture the optimism and energy of our younger years.

Making some changes can be the best thing we ever do for our self! But this also takes us into dangerous territory where we need to be careful about what we change. This is the time in our life, the infamous mid-life crisis, when we run the risk of discarding the things that really are meaningful and important, the things that hold us together. How many relationships have you seen fall apart because of mid-life angst? How many families have come undone?  You can toss away that cranky man you’re married to, give your wife the old heave-ho, or tell your nosy buddies to take a hike... but making changes like these will not cure the middle age blues. At the end of the day, you’ll still be sitting in a room, alone now, pondering your sad situation and wondering what the heck you’ve done. Some things cannot be undone.

But some changes can be good! Go ahead and indulge yourself, take some risks! Dip into your savings and make that trip to Australia you’ve talked about for twenty years, or buy that motorcycle you’ve been lusting after. You could even consider quitting your job to spend time at home and travel around America in an RV (sound familiar?). Whatever is important to you, whatever will challenge you, whatever will make you feel good and worthwhile again… go for it! As Eleanor Roosevelt said,
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experiences to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences.
Mid-life is not all grey and moldy. There are some wonderful aspects to being middle-aged: we’ve learned to stand up for our self, we offer well-founded words of wisdom to our children, we wear comfortable clothes, we don’t care about being cool, we can stay out as late as we want now that the children are grown, and so on. Decide what is important to you and figure out how to do it, or how to get it. Volunteer and give some of yourself to others - it will remind you of your worth and make you feel great. And, if you haven’t already, join AARP and get those discounts!

Go ahead, my middle-aged friends, and shake things up! Carefully.

2 comments:

SimplyForties said...

Great advice. Sometimes you just have to have an adventure! If you're not lucky enough to be able to chuck it all in and go, there are adventures everywhere!

Judi said...

I LOVE your posts! Even though I have heard most of the stories and info you provide here (although, not all) I still love reading them. I must confess, I look forward to my email notifications that there are new jems awaiting my arival at your blog.

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