Biggest problem with midlife crisis is that you do not know what your problem is. Until now, life has been all about setting goals and striving to achieve them – the school, the marks, the college, the job, the girl and all that. Until now, you have had something to look forward to. Until now, you have had an aim. Now, you are past that stage.
All those things that at one point of time looked like a tool to reach the pinnacle of life have dropped you to the so-called pinnacle – just that the pinnacle has turned out to be a plateau. Since it is a plateau, you find others to have reached the same place by taking different routes. You wonder if all those years were worth this present. Funny part is that everyone else in your boat thinks the same.
Human mind is a monster always hungry for thoughts. A kid’s mind is lost in his present. In his youth, human mind is lost in the dreams for his future. An old mind has too much of past baggage to think about.
Problem is with those in their midlife – there is sufficient baggage of past to think about and the future gives you more worries than hope. You are always thinking if change in handling a few things in the past would have reduced your worries for future. You are always trying to make yourself think that whatever you have is the best you could have got. Sometimes you also think that you were lucky even to have the present you have. The thing is that you are always confused between past, present and future – which part should be given the more importance in your thought process.
Deep down you know that staying in present is what will make you happy but you do not really like your present. Whatever you are doing is not what you had dreamt off in your youth. Something you dream of doing is the very same thing you cannot do now. Even if you manage to do it, you soon realize that it is not what you had asked for. It is nothing but a state of not liking whatever you do and not knowing what you would love to do. As I said, confusion is the word.
Midlife crisis is nothing less than an identity crisis. You don’t know what you are – a kid who dreamt of making it big in life, a youth who left no stone unturned to make his dreams come true, an employee who turns up every day at work so that he could pick up his paycheck at the end of the month, a son split between the duties of a husband and a father, a law abiding citizen who cannot do anything but crib about the issues out of his hands. It is an identity crisis.
Until now, you had been running a race that you did not know if you wanted to run. You hardly ever decided to take up or give up a lap. You were always told by others what to do – go to this school, this college is good, you have to take up a good job and things like that. In fact, you hardly took any decision on your own.
Suddenly, the tables have turned. Suddenly, you have become the decision maker. Suddenly you have to make all the calls. You have to choose school for your kids in a time when fee for one year is more than what your parents paid for your entire education. You have to choose a career move knowing that you do not have liberty of making too many moves now. You have to decide where to put your money so that it can guard you against old age, you have to decide which city to settle down, you have to decide which relations to hold on and which to let go. You have to decide everything. There is no comfort of others making a calls for you, you walking down the road in full knowledge that if things go wrong, the blame would be on someone else.
Risks and returns, they are all yours. There is nobody to blame now.
It is something quite new to you. This is something starting afresh. This is something you have to start learning when you had thought you are past the learning period of your life. Mind you, making decisions for yourself is the most important aspect of life and learn you must.
There is one more thing you have to learn and that is to find happiness. Happiness is not like bad luck, which comes uninvited. You have to seek it, search for it.
You have to find out what makes you happy. Work is nothing but a rut. Family is lot about making others happy and finding your happiness in their happiness. With them, it is more about finding solace in a better future for your family. It is good if you find it but what is equally more important is what makes YOU happy, what keeps you in present. Remember, I am using the word YOU repeatedly.
Maybe it is time to pick up that side of your which you had allowed to sleep while you were busy running the rat race in your childhood/youth. It is time to dig into what could be termed as your “oblivious side”. It is time to explore YOU.
Pick up that guitar which was dumped somewhere when you could not even find time to look at it. Pick up that camera which you bought in a thanksgiving deal but have not even charged its battery twice. To hell with tracking stock markets and real estate prices, go read the stuff you always wanted to. Forget watching news and getting worried about the state of the nation and society. You getting worried will not help it much. There is a whole lot of cinema made by geniuses across the globe – go watch it all. I am sure there must have been something you loved doing without caring about anything else. There must be. Are you sure there was nothing like this?
In case if there is nothing like a “loved doing it but had to give up” thing in your life, go pick up something new. Go out and play. You will be surprised to see the agility of your mind and body that could be achieved after playing a game for a month or so, you will be surprised to see that the kid in you still breathes. You will be surprised to see that you still have the ability to live in the moment. It does not matter if you are a rookie in anything you do. Doing is what matters.
In fact, it is good if you are a rookie. Remember, you have to enjoy the process without bothering a damn about the results. If you were perfect at an art, your job would have been more difficult. You would have needed to find new challenges and the biggest challenge would have been maintaining the passion along with loads of crap life puts in front of you. What you are looking for – a kick of achievement making you happy would be a tough thing to get. Hence, being rookie is better. With steep learning curve, you would be getting the desired kick more frequently. It is better to be a rookie, it is better to pick up something new. It is always better to be in present and that is what it will do.
The gist of the story is – go deep down inside, look for what makes you happy and have a life. It will be lot better than simply cribbing about life.
Okay. I am not preaching it to anyone else. Having being stuck in my midlife crisis, I am talking it all to myself. But it can very well be true for others.
Just in case you are an old man reading this, I hope I am making sense to you. I am sure you would have done the same.
Just in case you are in same boat as mine, I hope I am making sense to you. According to me, this is the only way to deal with this.
Just in case you are a young man reading this and I am not making any sense to you, stop grinning and save these tips for future. I know you are living in a denial that you will never age. Soon you will be living in a denial that you have not aged and these tips will come handy.
As has someone has said (Okay, Rahm Emanuel said it but I do not know who he is. I just googled for a good quote) “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before”.Who knows, while doing such a thing you may find a hidden treasure of a wonderful future in your midlife crisis.
Photo courtesy - The Scrib.