Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mid-life crisis : isn't it too early for me?

First of all, what is midlife crisis? I'm sure you're all wondering what it means.

Have you watched Julia Robert in Eat-Pray-Love? That is how a midlife crisis would look like (that's my ideal way of midlife crisis, most women would undergo this kinda process, don't worry).
It happens during the stage of life where people would assume that you have already settled down and reached your highest peak or the best time of your life, but instead of continuing the good thing you have been doing for years, you suddenly turned your back on it and start fresh of a completely new thing.

I'm surrounded with lotsa middle aged people around me, and from my observation, midlife crisis is not something which is not expected. One day this one person is the hottest women in office who loves her job, and next thing we know she resigned and planned to join a missionary (volunteery) work in Africa. When I asked, why? She's having a great life now, why quit? And people told me, She's just having her midlife crisis. So I said to myself, Oh this midlife crisis is so cool. Or probably it's just a cooler way of saying that we're quitting our current life and wanna start over.

Should I have my midlife crisis too? (ignore the fact that I just reached my quarter life par, if I lived up to 100 years that is :p)

Let's try to understand, what is a midlife crisis?

Nothing is so cliche about a midlife crisis. If you talk to middle-aged men and women who have experienced divorce, you will find that many of them will tell you their spouse changed overnight and became someone who discarded all that was once important to him for a new life that was all about what he wanted.

A midlife crisis is experienced between the ages of 40 and 60. It was first identified by the psychologist Carl Jung and is a normal part of the maturing process. Most people will experience some form of emotional transition during that time of life. A transition that might cause you to take stock in where you are in life and make some needed adjustments to the way you live your life. Most seem to come through the process smoothly without making major life changes.

For some, a midlife crisis is more complicated. It can be an uncomfortable time emotionally which can lead to depression and the need for psychotherapy. Those who have a hard time with this transitional stage might experience a range of feelings such as:
- Unhappiness with life and the lifestyle that may have provided them with happiness for many years.
- Boredom with people and things that may have been of interest to them before.
- Feeling a need for adventure and change.
- Questioning the choices, they have made in their lives and the validity of decisions they made years before.
- Confusion about who they are and where they are going.
- Anger at their spouse and blame for feeling tied down.
- Unable to make decisions about where they want to go with their life.
- Doubt that they ever loved their spouse and resentment over the marriage.
- A desire for a new and passionate, intimate relationship.

Most people who have a difficult time during midlife and go into crisis mode do so because of external factors. They may be experiencing stress in their life that makes the transition more difficult or they may have childhood issue that were never dealt with that come to the surface during this time. Some external factors that may cause this time in life to be problematic are:
  • Debt: It is easier to accumulate debt due to the availability of credit cards and loans. We are bombarded by credit card companies and it is easy to find yourself with large balances owed. We live in a society where it is commonplace to be living above our means. Finding yourself middle aged, in debt and facing retirement can add stress to an already stressful time in life. A normal reaction would be to seek help from a debt management company or consolidate your loans. A person who is finding it difficult emotionally during midlife might find it easier to walk away from their family in order to rid himself of what he feels is the cause of all the debt.
  • Significant Loss: The death of a parent or family member can cause grief, which is difficult enough to come to terms with, without having to also cope with the feelings of a midlife transition. Put the loss of a loved one with the feelings that accompany midlife and the whole process becomes bewildering and overwhelming.
  • Avoidant Personality: If a person has a tendency to avoid conflict in their personal relationships, suffers from feelings of inadequacy, are emotionally distant and has low self – esteem they will find midlife transition harder to navigate. This personality type has a deep fear of feeling shame and rejection. Such feelings will keep them from seeking help should their emotions become overwhelming. More than likely, they will run from their problems instead of trying to find solutions to them. It’s this personality type that normal ends up in divorce court during midlife.
Whether there are external factors that make the process more difficult or not, there is an internal process that is gone through. If a person lacks understanding of the process, she may find himself making irrational decisions she may later regret such as leaving a job, getting a divorce and throwing away the security that she built during the first part of her life.

However some people manage to navigate a midlife crisis, learn from it and move on to a more rewarding life. I hope when my midlife crisis finally came, I would be able to lift myself further up and get as much support as I can from my loved ones.

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