What is midlife anyway? It is a term that elicits a lot of reactions from people in it, people approaching it and people past it. Midlife has gotten a bad rap. It is a psychological, emotional, spiritual, and cultural phenomenon that hits us in our late 30s to early 40s and lasts until our 60s.
However, we commonly think of midlife as being at about 50 – which used to be considered old. We are living longer and healthier lives these days, well beyond eighty years and into our 90s. Midlife is the middle third of our lives consisting of five full adult stages of development before we reach what is considered the stages of old age. There are challenging aspects to it that are connected to our physiology, especially for women who feel the impact of perimenopause and menopause that can start as early as the late 30s and is usually over in the early 50s. However, it is more than that.
It often starts with an urge—a feeling that a change is in the offing. Curiosity or concern might pop up as you wonder, “What is going on with me?” One might feel a little scared or anxious and maybe a little excited. It causes us to question if we are at the right place in our careers and in our lives; to look to what is next.
Some women are launched into the experience of midlife as a result of various life passages: becoming an empty-nester, losing a spouse or partner to divorce or death, a career roadblock, or maybe the loss of a parent. This will cause some women to feel disconnected and disoriented.
However one arrives at the moment of realization of being at midlife, it is the threshold to a whole different experience of oneself. It is also the point at which we confront the question: “What is my life purpose?” As we mature into the process of sorting out our conflicting desires and impulses, the question becomes a clear voice from the inside seeking clarity about what it is we truly want in our lives; “Am I living the life I truly want to live?” Over time the coping styles and defense mechanisms of our childhood and young adulthood give way to deeper questioning. There is a truth inside that wants to express itself.
Some women move through this process with little incident and come out the other side with a sense of clarity and peace of mind; for others, it is a crisis. However, understanding the process can open the door to the excitement of this time of life—a time of re-igniting old passions and accessing new ones. It is a time to explore and reach for big dreams, to respond to the awakening of deep inner wisdom.
How you perceive this time in your life is YOUR CHOICE. You can wallow in sadness over the loss of what you thought you had, what you thought you wanted, or you can step up and live out the dreams you’ve dismissed while you were developing yourself to be who you are right now. The choice is yours. Looking forward to reading your thoughts and comments below…
Besides being an executive, a Toastmaster, a columnist and a balloon decorator, my passion to work with people can be traced back to my teen days. Whether as a member of the Interact Club or a community event, I have been on the go from the start. Why? I like getting people excited about the things I’m excited about. Right now that’s empowering the marginalized, especially women.