Midlife is the old age of youth and the youth of old age. Proverb
No wonder we’re confused! That proverb tells us we don’t know whether we’re young or old! That’s what mid-life is…the passage between youth and old age. That’s a frightening thought!… It doesn’t feel like a simple passageway. It feels like we’re teetering on the precipice about to cascade down, down, down into the abyss of old age! What are we afraid of? Maybe we’re afraid we haven’t accomplished enough, haven’t made our mark on the world. Maybe it’s just the feeling of time running out and an urgency to do, at least, a few of the things we couldn’t do when we were raising babies and furthering our careers.
It isn’t such a crisis. As puberty is a natural passage from childhood to adolescence, mid-life is our natural path from young adulthood to mature adulthood.
The Chinese word for mid-life crisis consists of two characters meaning danger and opportunity, translating properly to mean A Dangerous Opportunity. Crossing the line into mid-life, like any time of crisis, can be a great opportunity for growth and change. However, we need to be aware and daring enough to recognize and accept that opportunity. Otherwise, we may fall back into the danger zone of stagnation and regression. That may be our greatest fear of growing older.
Five of the signs that we’re experiencing our mid-life crisis are:
1) Realizing our previously happy lives are now a source of discontent.
2) Boredom with things and people that had always been of great interest to us.
3) Feeling adventurous and wanting to do something completely different.
4) Confusion about who you are or where your life is going.
5) Questioning the meaning of life, and the validity of decisions clearly and easily made years before.
So, what do we do about mid-life crisis? When we’re feeling bored, trapped, and as though everyone is demanding too much of us, we don’t run away. We draw the map of our journey through this crisis. A map provides us with direction and goals.
The first landmark will be the recognition that the emotional struggle we are about to endure is normal and necessary. We will need to let go of our old identity, that which holds no meaning for us any longer. We must open ourselves to what we are to encounter, spiritual growth, awareness and a new and deeper meaning for our lives.
Draw your map with care not to travel backward. Keep moving toward a more complete “you”. Simply trying to recapture our youth will cause us to step backward into that danger zone. Instead, choose youthful energy, excitement and motivation to propel yourself through this age to a more meaningful and challenging life. Become who you were meant to be all along. Become your best self…that healthy, active, engaging person you always knew you would be.