The forties are a time when midlife crisis hits you. Most folks find perceptible changes in their bodies, discover that they are no longer youthful and are beginning to resemble their parents. Strands of silver have begun to appear in their thinning hair and unseemly bulges become evident. For some people these are disturbing signs while others take it in their stride and age gracefully. Midlife crisis usually hits you in your mid forties and can continue well into 55. Apart from physical changes the midlife crisis symptoms include psychological changes as well. There are always the signs that midlife crisis has hit a person. People in their midlife crisis keep looking back at life and feeling that life has passed them by and they could not achieve enough. They feel the future would be futile and they have nothing to look forward to and suddenly the thought of mortality stares in the face. That’s when people want to feel younger, dress up more, want to keep young company and do things that are uncharacteristic of them and it’s their spouses who understand these changes the most.
(As Told To Anney Sam)
Here’s What Midlife Crisis Taught Me
Midlife crisis is akin to middle age disillusionment. Midlife crisis is in many ways similar to quarter-life crisis the only difference is this happens at 26 and midlife crisis can start anywhere between 45-55. There are stages of midlife crisis and those who survive all the stages emerge much superior. Marriages often find it hard to survive a midlife crisis because it leads to extramarital affairs and often even divorce that’s why partners should seek help if they feel a spouse is going through midlife crisis.
I went through my midlife crisis too and I must say it was a very trying time because while my hormones were going haywire I was mentally becoming insecure trying to hold to the last shards of my young life. But the whole phase taught me a few things and I am going to share those with you.
1. Find new hobbies and interests
If you had married in your early twenties, most children would have turned adults and would have been employed and married. It can be a matter of great joy to enjoy the company of your grandchildren. However, it is important to focus on your own interests and develop them. Many people I know have plunged into the secrets of organic gardening and farming. Athletic men and women take to running marathons or learning yoga. And yet others learn to paint, embroider or crochet, skills they learnt as children but are now free to pursue in real earnest.
2. Support your spouse’s insecurities
My husband retired as a CEO of an MNC and from an 18 hour hectic work schedule, not to mention constant travelling. So his being confined to the house was driving him nuts. Well so was I, so we planned on doing something together. We joined a dance class and learnt to Salsa. We also converted our garage into a modern art gallery where aspiring and established artists could display their work and use it as a work studio too. This brought us a lot of joy, and the feeling of uselessness slowly vanished.
3. Find the inner ‘ME’ and learn to love it
I joined a workshop on transformation therapy that was called ‘The Power Within’. As part of the exploration process we were encouraged to rediscover and nurture the ‘Inner Child’. It was very gratifying to find, embrace, and love the little 5-year old I was, once upon a time.
This workshop was actually a life transforming experience for me. I am glad I wanted to try something new and enrolled for this class to get over the midlife crisis that was hitting me. Doing something new and learning new skills is the best way to get over a midlife crisis. Social activities and coming together with people of all age groups helps immensely too. I joined a book club and often visited a friend who conducted cooking classes. It was really enjoyable and I discovered myself anew.
Read more: Is the 7-year itch in a relationship real?
4. Treat your adult children as friends
For the longest time everything that spurted out of my mouth were a string of commands. Stop that! Do this! Don’t mess with that! Which were then followed with another sting of advices or admonishments as the case would be. As soon as the kids became teenagers, they seemed to have switched on to a new pattern of behaviour. They no longer heard the “old mom” and instead responded only to a coherent, mild mannered mother who listened and offered only suggestions. So just like that one day I became their best friend.
This attitude to parenting also made life less stressful for me when I was going through my midlife crisis. Re-alignment of my parenting techniques helped me greatly.
5. Quit competing with the younger folk
My mother taught me this. With the arrival of her 23-year-old daughter-in-law, who could run up and down the length and breadth of the rubber-estate, my mom could only trudge along. She quickly slipped into the role of the dowager, got involved in social issues and the church and let other things fall around her.
When you are hit by the midlife crisis there is a tendency to feel that you need to look, feel and act younger. That is when all the trouble starts. If you can accept your age and take life as it comes much of your job is done.
6. Cultivate the sisterhood bond
For a lot of women, marriage, work and family take away so much energy that they fail to keep in touch with other women in their lives. Come midlife crisis and it hits you that everything is coming apart at the hinges, and it is comforting to have the company of the old sisterhood, of school and college girl friends. The nurturing conversations, the group outings for chai and chaat, even the quiet walks in the park. These are all very calming, soothing and provide comfort during the getting-used-to-old-age phase of life.
7. Learn to be alone and enjoy solitude
For a lot of people learning to be alone is a terrifying prospect. After being around family, colleagues, parties and people for nearly 4 decades , it can be unnerving to find yourself within four walls, and that too completely alone. This is the best time to learn to meditate, to enjoy the inner silence, to forgive people and situations in your life. This art of enjoying solitude will turn out to be one of the best tools to handle any crisis that you may come across in life.
Midlife crisis comes with its disillusionment, you go through the stages of midlife crisis and you know the signs are there but how you navigate through midlife crisis is entirely up to you. I learnt these lessons from my midlife crisis and I shared with you. Hope these helps in case you are hitting your midlife crisis stage.