Michelle Obama called her brief stint with ‘bangs’ her mid-life crisis! Brad Pitt grew his hair long when he went through his crisis and of course, I got myself a tattoo!
Mid-Life Crisis! It’s a word that is getting thrown around a lot. It seems to be the answer to every question. It is the cause of all the madness as we get closer to those confused ages. Celebrity or not it’s a crisis that seems to hit everyone, caste, gender no bar!
Midlife crisis is a term used for a period of emotional crisis, loss of self-identity and self-confidence. Usually, it happens between the ages 40-60, plus or minus a few. It is a time period in life when people seem to lose a sense of purpose and they look for something to latch on to. They have many questions and no answers. Some cultures are known to be more predisposed to this crisis than others. Japanese and Indian cultures apparently not so much. Not so sure about that, considering what I see around me!
Some people handle this in a good productive manner and some don’t. The end result of this crisis period is what determines if it was a positive or negative crisis. How does one identify if they are having a midlife crisis?
Well, here are 8 signs that you can reflect on and look out for:
1. The ‘meh’ phase: I call this so because everything in life seems just that; Meh! Nothing interests you and you find fault with everything. The movie sucks, the food was bland, the party boring, the people too full of themselves, so on and so forth. End of the day you end up feeling negative and bored.
2. ‘Living in the past’ phase: You are in this phase if you consistently find yourself revisiting the past being unhappy about the choices you made and how you would have had a better life if you did differently. Maybe taken up that overseas job you refused, marrying someone else, gone after an education that you wanted, etc. You can’t let go of the past, you have to move past it and look into the future.
3. The ‘what next’ phase: Have you ever woken up and wondered why you even woke up? Have you wondered how you are going to spend the rest of your life? Is retirement going to mean watching endless TV and listening to complaints from the spouse? Am I going to die of boredom? This is the phase when most people start rethinking their personal and professional life. They crave change and in the bargain might end up making some hasty, regrettable decisions.
4. ‘In Pursuit’ phase: I have talked to many friends who suddenly realize they have no purpose to life. They feel they were meant to do greater things in life but they just don’t know what. Many a life is wasted in the pursuit of finding this purpose. Well, guess what? It’s not necessary for everyone to have a purpose. It’s really not that important. Instead, make the best of what you have. Volunteer to social causes, find a hobby and focus on making a difference to people outside your regular sphere of life.
5. ‘The makeover’ phase: This is the most visible kind of phase. People make drastic out-of-character changes to their everyday life. That flashy convertible, the extreme diet or workout obsession, the tight/ill-fitting clothes, the botox shots, piercings, tattoos and what not! Find that true well-wisher who can be honest with you and put you back on track. Listen to them and reevaluate your actions accordingly.
6. ‘Epiphany’ phase: Yes, you read that right. Amazingly enough, once people hit midlife they do get epiphanies telling them what to do! Usually, these epiphanies have a single goal; to tell you your current profession or personal life sucks and you need to walk away from it to find your calling. To the shock of the other members of the household, people just walk away from a successful life to do something they-always-wanted-to-do! If you have received your ‘epiphany’ but waiting to do something about it, you may want to start by running it by a friend and then securing your personal and financial life to be able to follow your passion and dreams.
7. ‘Greener grass’ phase: Everything looks greener on the other side. If you feel jealous of your friends and co-workers, you have entered this phase. You spend more time scrolling through people’s lives on social media and feeling pity for your miserable existence. You are jealous of their success. You find reasons for your misfortune. You forget everyone is presented with a different set of opportunities and it’s important to make the best of what one has. Time to stop thinking about others and instead focus on improving your own.
8. ‘Tick-tock’ phase: It is the fear of mortality that brings you to this phase. You start hearing about people dying around you and you wonder when it will be your turn. Time is short and hence you make rash decisions to make the remaining time you have left memorable. People react to this phase in different ways. Some travel, some take up a hobby, some find love, buy a Harley Davidson and so on. Again, not a bad thing but it’s important to give yourself permission to do this as long as your decision is not toppling the ecosystem around you.
If you fit into one or more of these phases, you are having a midlife crisis. It is not as scary as people make it out to be and neither is it something to be taken lightly or made fun off. The negative side of the midlife crisis is that many people end up depressed and are unable to bring themselves out of the pits. If left unaddressed, it could ruin families. There is no official diagnosis or treatment for this crisis but it requires some self-reflection to accept, understand and treat. If you are thinking of making a major change to your life, make sure you talk to a friend to ensure you are on the right path and not a crisis path. Helping a loved one through this phase is also very important. Be a good listener, show concern and offer remedies.
There are many things you can say to people who are having a crisis to show empathy but there is one thing you should never say, and that is “You seem to be having a midlife crisis!”