I’m delighted to share the first guest post on this blog! It’s from one of my engaged readers (who I also happen to know in real life). Let’s call her Mrs Awesome.
(For reference, I don’t accept unsolicited articles or advertise third party goods and services on this blog. This topic came up in conversation with Mrs Awesome and I asked if she’d like to write a post on the topic.)
The midlife crisis in reverse
Recently I heard that an old friend’s wife had left him.
To everyone who knew this couple, the wife seemed to be having a classic midlife crisis. She’d recently lost weight, bought a new sports car and had now left her husband whom she had been married to for 30 years. She left him for a younger man. I know I’m biased but there is no way she was going to get an upgrade on the man she had been married to (no matter how hot she may think the new boy is).
So, what is a midlife crisis (MLC)? According to Wikipedia it’s a “transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 35-50 years old”. Other definitions put the upper limit at 55 which I much prefer as I’m almost 50 and if middle-aged stops at 50 then on average we’re destined to spend a very long time in the “elderly” category.
My friend’s wife’s behaviour got me thinking about how I am navigating midlife. What have I done or likely to do that could qualify as possible MLC-worthy?
Well, I’m female, and a quick search for female MLC behaviour came up with a bunch of depressing traits such as lack of sleep, boredom, chronic pain, fatigue, apathy — you get the picture. It’s a pretty boring list.
The men’s list of MLC behaviour is much more fun! In fact, it looks like my friend’s wife may be having a bloke’s MLC.
Where do I fit in? Who am I? I’m a classic gen-Xer; a bit of a latch-key kid; just young enough to have been pinged when they brought in student loans; just old enough to have parents that believed you made your own way in the world. I’m a mortgage-enslaved working mother who is time-poor, often stressed and statistically should be depressed at least some of the time.
But there’s good stuff too. I struck gold with my family, husband, kids and friends.
If everyone had to have some sort of MLC, what would mine look like?
My conclusion is this: As a female gen-Xer, I could be in the midst of my very own male midlife crisis in reverse.
Let’s look at some of the classic traits of the male MLC:
The sports car
I drive possibly the uncoolest car on the planet. Think cuboid, tall and thin with tiny wheels. I have a work colleague to thank for introducing me to these diamonds in the rough. She too just doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
She sold me the idea when I tried out hers and the visibility and driver comfort was just too good to ignore. Soon after I was the proud owner of probably the ugliest little piece of Toyota reliability for the bargain price of $3200.
This vehicle is the granny-machine tardis. For a small car, the interior volume is unbelievable. It seats 5 but you can flip the seats up to fit in three large bikes without taking wheels off! I’ve also had a washing machine – and even a sheep in the back (but we’ll save that story for another time).
Affairs and marriage break-ups
No thanks. I’m keeping my hubby. And I’m not willing to share him (or myself).
Drugs and alcohol
Apparently this increases in a typical male MLC. This is definitely a reverse trend for me. The hangovers are just too brutal.
Hey, I possibly would if I could but there are bills that need to be paid. This is the real world folks. You can’t just up and leave your job without another one just as good or better in the pipeline. And good jobs that require as much investment as mine don’t just drop out of the sky for free.
For the boys there’s really only one thing that matters: not being too fat. (I’m tempted to add having hair, but I don’t think I know any men that have gone down the hair implant path. I suspect in my culture the hair thing is not a big deal.) So that leaves the boys with some gym work and maybe a bit of a run/swim/cycle from time to time.
But as I am a girl, I will digress a bit here and delve into three separate realms of personal appearance.
- Weight obsession. Just not my thing. Boring.
- Cosmetics. As above and also really expensive!
- Cosmetic surgery/botox/fillers.Now this is a fascinating one. I have friends who make a living dishing this out and plenty of other friends who spend a fortune consuming it. I really don’t get it. For the love of God why would people actually pay to have botulism injected into their face? And fillers? What is going on there? Lips that look like a sucker-fish are not natural, attractive or youthful-looking.
I like to pick my battles. When you try to fight nature you will inevitably lose. I accept that I am getting older. If I’m lucky, I will one day be “old”. I’m happy to look my age.
I could go on. But I think you get the picture. I just don’t give a shit about what I or anyone else drives, wears or injects. You may think that by no longer caring I have given up or have been defeated. You could try to argue that I’ve lost my “mojo”. You may be right. But I just don’t care.
And I suspect I’m not alone.
There you have it! I asked Mrs Awesome to write this article because she mentioned the concept of a mid-life crisis in reverse in passing and I loved the idea!
Many years ago I read about a Buddhist concept of “lungta”. It describes the energy and charisma that comes from being completely at peace and unafraid with who you are. In terms of mid-life “crises”, I think this is something we can all aspire to. Not caring what others think is, to me, the very definition of having mojo. As someone a little younger (but only a little younger!) than Mrs Awesome I take her as a good example.