Do you ever feel like you're experiencing a mid-life crisis, before you've even reached that typical age known as mid-life?
It's a topic that seems to have been covered a lot recently in the press and it's got me wondering why. I don't think I've reached a conclusion by the way, but here are just a few thoughts that I've been pondering and I'm keen to know what other people think.
I was recently asked to provide my thoughts to the Financial Times for a piece they were putting together entitled 'Is the mid-life crisis just an excuse?' and because I'm not quite mid-life just yet (close but not yet!) I could only talk from my own experience of where I find myself as I approach my mid-thirties.
Traditionally a midlife crisis is defined as a time when adults suddenly come to realise their own mortality and how much time they have left in their lives. As opposed to a quarter-life crisis when people in their late teens to early twenties begin to struggle with the realities of becoming an adult and are doubtful about what to do with the rest of their lives.
You may or may not have read my little intro on this blog in which I explain my decision to start my own new adventure. I guess this highlights my own early midlife-ish crisis. I've been extremely lucky to have had the support and encouragement of a great family and friends to enliven me to take the time to pursue this and other perhaps less 'steady' career challenges. I'm aware of the risks but I desperately needed to try and re-find the real me, to express and create in a way that I had lost somewhere along the line. The chance to do so presented itself so I've taken it.
Despite various uncertainties that grip me now and again this has been one of the best experiences of life to date. Meeting new people, learning new things, building confidence and making new daily accomplishments that I didn't even know I had the courage to achieve. Creating something of my own and finding that people actually enjoy reading it, well that's a wonderful feeling but I'm very lucky and am I just expecting too much? If you read the comments section after the FT article you'll find a plethora of people suggesting that quite frankly being so unsatisfied at such an early age is just a lot of nonsense!
So why is it that we can't just be happy with our lot? Is the midlife crisis really happening sooner or is this a new unexplained phenomenon. Is it because we have so much more choice on offer these days that we're unable to make a decision and stick to it, are we just getting ourselves confused?
Recent studies show a worrying increase year on year of anxiety and depression in the younger generations. I do think that this is in part the world that we are living in today. Yes we have an awful lot more choice but we're also incredibly unsure just what to do with it or how to make the right decisions. We now live in a much smaller world in the sense that overseas travel and the advent of the internet have put everything much more readily on our plates. We see there is so much more potential for experience and learning than just one steady career for life. Not that I'm knocking doing that in any sense at all - in fact I really admire it.
Many people are choosing to start families later, maybe in their mid thirties instead of mid twenties so with the absence of that kind of long term responsibility we're allowing space to take greater risks. Plus pretty much none of us can afford to buy a house these days so why not see what else there is out there as the traditional path seems to be getting further out of view! Even people that I know who do have a family and a mortgage and all of the adult responsibilities that adorn us as we grow have still taken risks and made big career changes in their thirties despite being set on a path that could've been seen more secure and more likely to sustain them for life.
So is it really that bad wanting to make a change and search for something to make us happy? Are we just being selfish, are we going through a crisis? Or are we just making excuses for our failure to launch, so to speak, into the reality and routine of the adult world? Who knows - I don't, but I know that not being afraid to say 'this isn't what I want from life' has made me happier than I've been for a long time. So my conclusion is that we can only do what's right for us. Life is short as they always say so why not make the most of it? Mid-life crisis or not we're all just doing our best even if the route we're on is a little different to those who went before us.
What are your thoughts on this subject I'd really love to know?
Midlife Crisis In My Thirties - The Guardian