Do you ever have a moment where you think, wow, I’d like to halt time, recreate who I am and then start a different life? Even if your life is good but there’s something just nagging at you, maybe you are not following a dream or trapped in a bad relationship or something your entire self is trying to tell you? I think everyone has these moments and for me it seems to hit more now that I’m in my mid-40’s and my life is really good. I believe the magazine writers call it “second act” or “second-half” or well, “midlife crisis”.
But is it really a crisis? Or is it just a time you pause after being on the same track for many years. The track of getting through your education, finding a job, forwarding your career or whatever direction you took. Finding a mate, maybe having a few kids or a houseful of kids, acquiring the typical material possessions such as a home, vehicles, a trip to Disney or whatever it was that you wanted. Then you reach a certain age and SCREECH. Everything comes to a halt.
You’re standing there thinking what the hell? Suddenly you aren’t running kids everywhere, attending twenty-three events in a week for them. They’re off to college or maybe the older ones out of college. You aren’t needed every moment of the day. Then you realize you’re at a good place in your job or whatever career path you chose, maybe you own a successful business. You’re in a groove, you got it down pat, it’s really not that challenging anymore but you’re in a comfortable place and you make a comfortable living, maybe even more than comfortable. Your house is stuffed full of things you’ve acquired over the years, your closets are crammed full of clothing where maybe in college, you barely had enough to get by a week. You’ve arrived.
Okay, so you’ve reached that pinnacle but the thing is, no one told you – “what next?” or you never really thought about it. Oh you’ve been saving hard for retirement, you’ll go fishing, travel, watch Wheel of Fortune because you know that show will still be on as Pat and Vanna come out with a wheelchair and walker, that show is never going off the air. But in a way, you’re a bit in retirement already or it feels that way. You have a lot more free time and you’re not quite sure what to do with it all. I’m sure this isn’t everyone, but I’m not one that likes to commit myself to a lot of organizational activities.
You start daydreaming, what do I want to be when I grow up? Honestly, it is much like when you were in school and you had to start thinking about this question in earnest. When college recruiters and guidance counselors and teachers were breathing down your neck? What are you going to do after school? As if you were supposed to have your entire life figured out by age 17. I laugh about that now. Some people know exactly what they want to be by the time they are 10. “I’m going to be a neurosurgeon.” I always looked at these people as if they were an alien, that they were so definite in their plans.
Me, I have so many interests and likes that it was more like: “I’m going to own my own business, a florist shop but then I want to have a nursery with it and then a coffee shop where people can enjoy good drinks and pastries but then I will offer art classes and display different artists for sale but then I want o have an animal rescue on part of the property and then…” By the time I was done, the name of my business would have had to be so long to encompass what I wanted, that no one would really understand what it was. Actually I envied those people who were so sure of their calling because my calling felt like a career advisor on crack was trying to help me. My biggest fear was that I would pick the wrong “calling”.
Maybe there is no one certain calling for me. Which is why I am back to trying on hats, mentally of course, doing research, weighing the pros and cons of different avenues that I could take in my life right now. Mostly, it’s a creative avenue that doesn’t require me to quit my job and move into another. I am more likely to tell you what I don’t want to do rather than what I want. Except writing. Maybe that is my calling, to finally publish a novel. Maybe to be a mixed media type of artist and sell my stuff (that I have in my mind and have not created) in different markets. Or maybe I really am the crazy cat lady and will start a cat rescue where I have hundreds of cats and will then soon be divorced – ha…
In many ways, the ‘crisis’ is not that at all but a valley where you take a few moments out of your life to explore new avenues and try on new identities. Not that you literally go to some shady guy in the city (or small town probably now) to get a fake ID and passport then disappear leaving your family to believe you are dead. It doesn’t have to be that drastic. Now is the time when you start thinking about the things you really enjoy and love, your passions. There may be ways to not upheave your entire life and still try on the new “you” as you use your new free time that once was monopolized by your children or whatever it was, to focus on the things you enjoy the most. Or maybe it is time to consider going back to school for that career you really wanted but for whatever reason you chose a different path (usually parental pressure or something just the income potential was higher).
There is so much stigma with this part of your life. Mid-life but while it can be very challenging especially if you are dealing with sick or aging parents, layoffs, your own health issues, etc., but it can also be very exciting as you take that second breath and start looking at your new future with the wisdom of many years under your belt. All that “I wish I had known this in my 20’s” can be applied to your 40’s and 50’s instead. You can’t go back anyway, only be in today and look toward your future.
So don’t be afraid to recreate yourself, even if it’s just a small part of your life. You don’t have to go hog wild crazy and disrupt everything and everyone around you like the stereotype of “mid-life crisis” demands. Sure, there are people who do that. Leave their long time spouse for someone younger than their kids, buy a wildly expensive sports car and start dressing ridiculous. That is the extreme case. I was thinking more along the lines as starting that small business on the side you always wanted, crafting jewelry or painting, traveling to those places you dreamt about, volunteering for a cause close to your heart or changing careers.
The bottom line is, life is short and you should take the time to really search your heart and follow your dreams you may have missed. It’s never to late to recreate (okay, I have no aspirations to be a poet, you can breathe easy!).