I never read about this in school but I stumbled on it while looking out for some emotional challenges people face in their daily lives. What is midlife crisis? According to Wikipedia, Midlife Crisis is briefly defined as a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically from 45 years.
This article is meant to draw your attention to the existence of this psychological crisis so you’ll be able to prepare for it, reduce it, manage it when it comes (that’s if you’re still within the age of doing that) or so you’ll be able to manage it if you’re already caught up in it. Like every other phenomenon (scientific or otherwise), there are divergent views on whether Midlife Crisis exist or not. To me, it’s only a common sense that it does exist.
Midlife Crisis is not the same as everyday stress. There are occasional experiences that increase our stress as individuals. This could be our job or a nagging boss. It could be our environment or other family crises, but Midlife Crises are caused by events in one’s life relating to: shortcomings in accomplishments in one’s life, fear of ageing and the inevitability of death. I’d rather believe that Midlife Crisis is caused more by shortcomings in accomplishments. These Shortcomings breed the fear of ageing and subsequently the fear of dying without impacting the world. The symptoms of Midlife Crises are frustration, anxiety, fear, remorse and depression. These are great causes of such ailments as high blood pressure, stroke and most times untimely death.
Midlife Crises differ in men and women. That is, what constitutes crisis in a man may not be a problem in a woman and vice versa. It could also be a cultural thing. Which means a particular thing constitutes a cause of Midlife Crises to some cultures. Let us look at different areas through which midlife crises can emanate in one’s life.
- Career: Those who suffer career setbacks at their younger age are likely going to be depressed later in life. Career setback is a serious shortcoming in life and can hinder every other aspect one’s individual life. Career choice is very critical to one’s life goals. A wrong career choice might constitute a source of misery in one’s life especially at midlife. If one is not able to settle for a career life early enough, there is the tendency that at a certain age, it becomes difficult to fit in. At the age of 40, one is expected to have grown satisfactorily to a certain level in a chosen career. When this fails to happen, there surely will be psychological crisis. We are always advised to discover our career path early enough and grow in it as our years grow. This might in one way or another create career fulfillment and reduce crises associated with career when the time comes.
- Marriage: This is another common source of Midlife Crises. In many cultures of the world, a lot of women suffer anxiety and frustration for lack of marriage. A younger person has little or nothing to worry about when it comes to getting a life partner. But a woman of 45 who’s not married cannot find it funny. Making the wrong marriage choice early in life can also lead to Midlife Crises later in life. Many people are trapped in marriages they never bargained for. Trapped because they have a lot of excuses and reasons not to quit the marriage. They feel quitting the marriage might hurt their children or other family members and lead to another crisis. They probably did not see this coming before saying “I do.”
- Children: Child up-bringing can be quite challenging at midlife. One may have reasons to regret early actions taken to train a child which turned out to have negative impacts. Not having a child at all is a serious source of anxiety and frustration at midlife. Not having children early enough is also an issue. There are advantages in having children early in life. One is that they’ll grow right in your presence and you are still young. However, there is also disadvantage in having children early. It might be that you do not have what it takes in terms of knowledge and skill to bring up the child. If the child is not properly brought up, it becomes a source of depression. Crisis can also emanate from the fact that at midlife, you are sandwiched between your children and your parents and if the resources are not there, your worries would increase.
- Age: A lot of middle aged individuals, sometimes, behave as though there was something they forgot to enjoy while they were young. They behave as though they are angry with their age. You see them trying to be young. Men who suffer from this attach themselves to younger women while women who suffer from this look out for younger boys to hang out with. When they dress, you see it in them; when they talk, you’ll be tempted to ask, “Do you think you’re a kid?” They want to be young; they are afraid to accept the reality of ageing. This could be as a result of late exposure. It could also be as a result of unaccomplished goal yet. A person who hopes to get married sooner than later won’t be happy growing old.
- Lack of other Accomplishments: Midlife is a period of looking back to one’s accomplishments in life. It is a time to beat one’s chest and say “I have achieved this or that” In Africa for instance, a man is only a man when he is married, has children, builds his own house and most recently has a car. He is a bigger man when he is able to train his children and provide for his family. Then from that level, he supports the community and gets a chieftaincy title. People always look at their contemporaries and what they have achieved in life and as such may throw themselves into psychological crisis if they see themselves as inferior. It could be lack of any of the factors mentioned above. It could be as a result of changes in physical appearance. Anything at all can trigger this.
We can be happier in our midlife if we become very much aware of the impending crises associated with it. We can work hard to ensure they are put other control. I strongly believe that midlife could be prepared for just as old age is prepared for. If you are not there yet, build your career, set your goals and be sure they’re realistic and time-bound. Do not live anything to chance; work out your relationships. If you’re there already, try as much as you can to separate Midlife Crisis from stress related anxiety. Manage stress related anxieties through stress management mechanisms. Exercise very often to cater for physical changes that come with ageing. Remember you are human, you cannot be perfect. Be grateful for the things you have achieved. Discover the beauty of your transition and enjoy. Do not brood on the crises.