Midlife is a time for change, not a midlife crisis

A mature woman sitting outside and drinking her cocktail

I’m sorry, but I simply cannot bear the incessant chatter around the so-called midlife crisis. It’s just another tiresome example of society characterising something perfectly normal as a total drama

Why must we always paint everything in such a negative light? Yes, changes are occurring, and menopause can be a challenge for some, but what if we just reframed midlife and looked at it as a time to choose, rather than a time of crisis?

It might come as a shock, but the idea of a midlife crisis has only been around since the mid-60s, thanks to some questionable Canadian psychoanalyst named Elliott Jaques. But is the crisis even real? A 25-year study from the University of Alberta concluded that happiness doesn’t just come to a screeching halt when you turn 40. In fact, overall happiness tends to increase as we get older. 

So what’s with all the negativity?

Sure, by the time we hit midlife, we’ve been through some pretty major changes. We might have switched careers, retired, experienced loss, raised children and seen them leave, or had relationships that failed. And let’s not forget about the hormonal rollercoaster we’re still riding. 

But just because we’ve reached the halfway point, it doesn’t mean we need to freak out. 

The trappings of responsibility are falling away, and we have the freedom to focus on our own happiness

Instead of spiralling into confusion and asking ourselves if we’re enough, why not pause and reflect? Adjust our goals and make peace with our past? We’ve got options now. The trappings of responsibility are falling away, and we have the freedom to focus on our own happiness and leave behind the things that no longer serve us.

A 2016 study from the British Psychological Society discovered that people who experienced a midlife ‘crisis’ and were ultra-focused on their purpose in the world were more likely to find creative solutions to their challenges. All it takes is a shift in the way we think. We can use the skills we’ve honed over the years – strength, resilience, resourcefulness, adaptability – to move on, form new relationships, travel more adventurously, and think differently. We can set new boundaries around living for ourselves.

It’s all about perspective

As the brilliant Brené Brown once said, “People may call what happens at midlife a ‘crisis’, but it’s not. It’s an unravelling – a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re ‘supposed’ to live. The unravelling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.”

I know it sounds scary, making a choice to relinquish the old stuff and grab hold of the new. But what’s the alternative? A downward spiral of dissatisfaction and, ultimately, despair? Let’s not sink fully into the crisis, never to emerge. Instead, let’s embrace the unravelling! 

It can be hard work for some, and sometimes we need to summon every ounce of our courage. But think of the opportunities that lie ahead, you beauties! We’re all coming into our power in our sixties, just like the fabulous Helena Bonham Carter said. Let’s make that journey together.

Read: How a life changing retreat transformed this 60-year-old’s life

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About Grace Fodor
Pro age warrior, beauty expert, and founder of Studio10, grown-up beauty. Skincare, makeup and pro-fixes uniquely formulated for mature skin.  Studio10's PRO AGE movement reframes the misguided notions and negative social constructs of middle age that diminish our worth, beauty, and confidence.

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