Why are second life adventures for women seen as the start of a new life, but men teased for having a midlife crisis? Adam Archway is fighting for his right to behave like a kid again…
Right chaps! We see a lot of stuff in magazines and online about women and how it’s fine to grow old disgracefully and wear what the hell you want and speak your mind and generally be STRONG, and I’m behind that 100%. Just getting that out there right now before you all sharpen your pencils.
In fact I’m behind that whatever age you are, frankly. Go sisters, I’m right there in that corner. Do what the hell you like.
BUT what about us poor fellows?! When we hit a ‘certain age’ and want to go all crazy we get accused of having a midlife crisis. Where is our support network? Where are the comments I want to read like ‘Hey boyfriend, you do your thing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise because you’re an absolute king’?
Joking aside, there really is a bit of a tilt here. A quick search of the web this morning and the phrase ‘signs of a midlife crisis’ turns out a ton of lists that basically take the piss out of us chaps.
And yet when I suggest that it’s ‘my time’… I’m having a midlife crisis. “Why don’t you get a motorbike and dye what’s left of your hair pink?” guffawed one of my best mates.
As I’ve got older (64, since you ask) I’ve found – much in the same way I see women defiantly claiming – that I feel more ‘myself’. I have more self-confidence, I am less worried about the small stuff. I speak my mind, I am kinder to other people. I am solvent and free to do as I please, within reason. I try and help causes. I have raised three amazing children who all now have their own lives and have left the nest reasonably happy and able to fly. I’ve hung on to an amazing wife who never stabbed me or anything. I’ve done OK.
And yet when I suggest that it’s ‘my time’ and maybe I’ll do some new stuff, my wife and family – and my friends – all laugh at me and tell me I’m having a midlife crisis. “Why don’t you get a motorbike and dye what’s left of your hair pink?” guffawed one of my best mates.
Well – why not indeed? The bike – well who wouldn’t want to throw caution to the winds and head out on the highway? I don’t have a great deal of hair, and I’m not convinced pink would suit my colouring. But dammit, shouldn’t I be able to do that if I wanted to?
Midlife crisis ‘signs’ to look out for apparently include going vegan, signing up for sporting challenges, reaching out to old lovers, reaching out to MUCH younger new lovers, buying a toupee, getting a tattoo, buying expensive toys like Lamborghinis (if only), learning to play an instrument or joining a band, taking up an extreme sport, going to Glastonbury… you get the picture.
I’ve sacrificed a whole ton of dreams to support my family – whom I love without reservation. But the truth is that there is a huge list of things I didn’t do, because I put them first
So explain to me why any of these are bad ideas. All these things sound like fun to me (no, not the lovers, for the benefit of my wife who is probably reading this). But really – aren’t a lot of these the things most of us would always kinda like to be doing, but during your child-rearing or career years didn’t have the time or the money to do? That’s certainly been my experience.
I’ve sacrificed a whole ton of dreams to support my family – whom I love without reservation and have absolutely no regrets about doing so for them. But the honest truth is that there is a huge list of things I didn’t do, because I put them first. On the one hand, I’m proud of that. On the other – well, now that’s not my primary function, isn’t it time for me? Just a bit?
In the interests of even-handedness I should probably identify that midlife crises often happen to people as a result of something – and of course they’re not just for men. Bereavement is right up there for turning your life upside down; empty nest syndrome, illness, retirement, depression, fear of mortality, partners leaving, the weight of caring for elderly parents, loss of jobs – all these thing and more can really knock one sideways, and the ‘crisis’ is often simply nothing more than a coping mechanism.
In those situations, surely it’s sympathy not ridicule that is needed. Jeez, whatever gets you through the dark days, hey? If this is you, by the way, maybe look for some kind, professional help with whatever darkness you’re coping with – and if this is someone you know… well, stop laughing at them.
But what about the reasonably-happy-but-slightly-bored-and-restless blokes like me? Surely we should be allowed to grasp the nettle?!
If I’m going to have a Midlife Revival I want it to rock with its cock out. God love us, we are not here for very long
Some of the ‘signs you’re having a midlife crisis’ items I’ve seen on various lists are just stupid. A piece in The Telegraph suggests concerns like ‘only reading books when you are on holiday’ or ‘taking out a direct debit to donate to a charity’ are an indication.
Sorry, but what sort of crisis is this?! It sounds to me like the same sort of crisis I might have on a wet Sunday afternoon with nothing to do except watch the rain trickle down the window and be trying to decide whether to wipe the window sill or not. For goodness sake, if you’re going to do a thing, do it properly.
No – if I’m going to have a Midlife Revival (and it’s time we stopped referring to it as a crisis) I want it to rock with its cock out. God love us, we are not here for very long. If you’ve hit 60 and there is a long list of stuff you want to do, you should bloody well start planning it. Now.
So here’s my Midlife Revival list. I’m planning to try and tick off as many of these as I can in the next ten years, if I’m lucky enough to live that long.
MIDLIFE REVIVAL LIST – 11 THINGS TO DO WHILST i STILL CAN
- Get to Glastonbury again. If I really put the effort into it, I would absolutely love to do Burning Man.
- Pick up my guitar. I’ve got some other friends who used to be in bands and I’m totally into a ‘dad band’ and doing some local pub gigs if I can persuade some of the others. I will force my kids to come.
- Do a class that’s normally seen as ‘female’ such as a pottery group or maybe even a cookery class. I’m not much cop in the kitchen – I’d love to be able to make some amazing dinners for my missus.
- Do Route 66. I know, I know. This has to be one of those right up there on the MLC lists. But I want to do it.
- Read more books. As in, put down the smartphone and pick up something made of paper and print, and immerse myself in other worlds.
- I have to face it – the receding hairline is now beyond help. So it’s a short clip for me next week – I’m going to buzz it all off, down to a No2 or so. BUT I’m also going to explore wearing dapper hats, and more caps.
- And talking of dapper – my adult life has largely been spent rushing around working or parenting. I would dearly love to try dressing in a more sartorial way. Get a couple of proper suits made and try to dress formally at least once a week like an adult. And use a silver-topped cane.
- Take better care of my physical health. I’m not about to sign up for a Tough Mudder, but I could eat better, take some vits, do more exercise. I’ll feel better too.
- Give up alcohol.
- Just kidding about that last one. But try to drink more discerningly, talk less bollocks, and learn more about wine. Start to build a wine cellar.
- Give something back. Not quite sure how, but my years of experience and my freer time could be put to good use doing something for other people. So that’s on the list. It’s at the top really, it was just more fun to blaze straight in with the festivals.
Use the hashtag on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to tell us more about your own midlife renaissances and revivals. Men of the world, unite for your right to parrrrrrrtttttaaaay.