“Psychological doubt, anxiety, feelings of pointlessness, panic and frustration.”
That’s how it’s defined. This midlife crisis. All negative words. It is a crisis after all…….or is it?
I had not thought of midlife or any kind of crisis associated with it, until a few years ago. Because, like most of us, when I was growing up, I had never thought that I would go through “midlife” let alone “midlife crisis”! As a kid, age didn’t bother me, ofcourse — all I wanted to do was to “grow-up”. As a teenager, I was supposed to be invincible (aren’t they all? :P). And as a twenty-something, I was a world conqueror (stating the obvious!). I’m sure this pretty much sums up the human journey to adulthood, in a nutshell (a very small peanut shell, to be precise, haha).
And then came the roaring thirties! Yeah, so what? Hadn’t I told myself time and again that age-is-just-another-freaking-number, and that no matter what, I’ll never fall into the fake trap of psychological aging process that magically begins with the number “30”?. Ofcourse I had told myself that. Yes, I had conditioned myself that way. Yes, I was safe. Still, I fell into that murky-tangled-dark-void of a fake trap. Facepalm.
How did I feel? I felt old, sigh. I know, you only age ‘one day’ the day you turn from twenty-nine to thirty, then why? Because I was told so. Not by a particular person but by the society. Being thirty is such a big deal, isn’t it? (I need not elaborate). But why blame the entire society for my individual crisis? Couldn’t I stand up for myself and shun the societal norms? Yeah, retrospectively thinking, I could have…….
Anyway, moving on, whatever the reason was, in a few more days/weeks/months I felt incomplete. I felt left behind. I felt betrayed. By whom? Who knows? Time perhaps, who seemed to be running faster than usual now (take that, Einstein!).
Then I got into the blaming mode. Aka, the mode where you stop thinking and have the potential to see only the “gaps” between everything you have, instead of actually seeing everything you do have so you can make the best out of it. The ever regressive blaming mode – where nothing gets done. And then I wanted to “take-a-break”. All that blaming and do-nothing attitude must have been pretty tiring, you see. But, seriously, I wanted to take a break. Even though I understood my comparative privileged status and I knew that I had everything I had ever wanted (and needed), now I wanted a break. That surprised me.
So, I tried to find out what other people do when they start their journey on the elusive path of thirties. All around me, surprisingly, all of my “older” friends who were already thirty-somethings seemed pretty happy, content and confident (or were they getting really good at faking?!). They had somehow slipped into their thirties without a sound. That didn’t help me much.
So, I turned to the internet (where all dreams come true, haha!). I learned that, among other things, many people packed their bags and off they went to places unknown. I guess that’s how they were “taking-a-break”. But, I couldn’t pack my bags and set off to a long sabbatical! I couldn’t afford the time, or the money, or a long absence away from my family. Hell, I didn’t want to go anywhere in the first place! Why were these people taking off anyway? To find themselves. Yes, that was the stated reason. That didn’t make any sense. If I had to search for myself, why would I go anywhere? Was I not right here?
(I must confess that I did do sky-diving, which is also “internetly” related to midlife crisis; but honestly that was much later and had very little to do with my ‘crisis’).
Anyway, I was convinced that “finding myself”, whatever that may mean, was the only solution at hand. But how would I do it? What does finding yourself mean anyway? I didn’t know. It was now introspection time, my friends. Not knowing where to begin, I simply began by asking myself this candid (and, in a way, selfish) question: What makes me happy? I figured that it was necessary for me to have a happy/positive disposition to be able to concentrate on finding myself.
So I asked. I saw. I contemplated. I had to close my eyes and look within. It turned out that there were many-many things I had always wanted to do, that would have made me happy, but I had always subconsciously postponed them to a later day. Who knows why? I thought I’d live forever, that’s why? I felt unaccomplished! I was trying to look deep within but what I found did not satisfy me. It was ugly and depressing. So, without asking any further questions, I set about fixing that.
I sought new hobbies, made a list of short-term goals (nothing fancy, very “accomplishable” – life is made up of little things after all!) and set myself to pull them off. I find myself very fortunate to be able to pursue most of my wishes. There were failures on the path too but, hidden underneath, I could find happiness as well :-).
I am indeed very lucky to be surrounded by people in my life whom I love and, most importantly, who love me back. I have been able to do things that I never thought I would be able to do. I have been able to cross my comfort zone often, and I’ve surprised myself once in a while too. Along the way, though it is still a little obscure, I have been able to sift through the fog and peek into what I may deem – a purpose. Perhaps, this is what “finding oneself” means? Perhaps I would seek myself forever. Perhaps this crisis would never end. But who wants it to, anymore?
The experience has humbled me and has restored in me a new meaning. So why is this so called crisis touted to be such a bad/negative thing? It turned out to be a miracle for me! Today when I think about my midlife
cris…err miracle, I laugh that I was so tempted to give up and fly far away. The temptation was so real, and so were my wings. But I didn’t. I decided that I could not fly away from myself, and that I didn’t have to. I decided to live with myself for the rest of my life – and believe me, it’s not easy to live with me (ask my husband :P). I took the longest path I could fathom – I decided to travel to my soul. The journey has been very pleasant so far, and is – without a trace of doubt – full of grateful thanks for all my friends, coworkers, and above all my family, and I would not have wanted it any other way.