Hi. I’m Tess, and I’m having a mid-life crisis.
I know I’m not alone in this. But I constantly find myself wondering: is this the life I’m meant to be living? Do I want marriage? I’m being told I’m running out of time to have kids – do I even want kids, though? What’s the meaning of life, and how do I fit into it?
My mid-life crisis started a bit earlier – with my cystic fibrosis equaling a shortened life span, mine began in my mid-twenties. It’s on-and-off, but these questions still haunt me.
But is a mid-life crisis even real? Are there symptoms outside of existential worry? How can you ease your stress? This is what I’ve learned going through my own.
Is a Mid-Life Crisis An Actual Thing?
My midlife crisis is going to be epic
— Court (@B4_My_Time) May 5, 2021
Most people believe in them, but science isn’t entirely convinced that there is one singular definition for a mid-life crisis. These crises can be triggered by major life events, such as a major breakup/divorce or loss of a job. However, there are also smaller triggers that can cause this break, like unhappiness at work or consistently wondering about the “what ifs” in life.
The usual age of a mid-life crisis is between early-thirties and mid-sixties. That’s not to say that you’ll have a midlife crisis for 35 years – it simply means that it can hit at any point within that age range.
So since I turned 35 today, do I need to contact someone about a midlife crisis, or, will one automatically be assigned to me?
— 𝕭𝖆𝖉𝖆𝖘𝖘 𝕯𝖆𝖉 🤘🏻 (@TexanSleeper) March 9, 2021
Symptoms of a Mid-Life Crisis
I don’t know if I’m having a midlife crisis or if I’m just reverting backwards… are they different really?
— The Queen’s Heart ✨ (@thequeensheart) May 2, 2021
The American Psychological Association defines an emotional crisis as “a clear and abrupt change in behavior.” This may include lack of personal hygiene; isolation from the world; mood swings; and/or dramatic changes in lifestyle, like sleeping too much or too little.
The concept of aging is scary. Many people in their crises hyper-focus on concepts such as their mortality, their confidence, who they are, and past regrets. This can lead to impulsive actions, like quitting their jobs, switching careers, or making impulsive purchases.
I am having a midlife crisis so I am custom ordering a sword that I definitely don’t have money for, anyone want to design a cool symbol or coat of arms for me lmao
— krizos (@realkrizos) May 5, 2021
It can also go a step further: those in long-term relationships or marriages may begin affairs, or they may make a major purchase, like an expensive new car.
Ways to Navigate A Mid-Life Crisis
As someone who has gone through a gamut of emotions while figuring out who I am, what I want, and how to get there, I’ve learned a lot.
Allow yourself to feel.
These worries are perfectly normal, and it’s important to acknowledge them and validate them. Just make sure you’re not dwelling on them for too long. To help, you can set a timer for 20 minutes each day to worry. When the timer goes off, shut down your worries.
See a therapist.
Therapy is so helpful. Having someone listen objectively and provide insight is indispensable. They also may have suggestions that you wouldn’t have thought up yourself. My therapist is amazing and creates a safe space for me to voice my insecurities, then offers solutions – without trying to “fix” me.
Have someone hold you accountable.
Yeah, that diamond necklace is gorgeous, and you have some savings for it. But do you really need it? When you’re in the throes of a crisis, it’s easy to justify these impulses. Check in with someone you trust who can help stop you from making these impulse purchases.
Research your impulses rather than experiencing them.
So you think your calling is to be a marine biologist rather than an accountant. That’s awesome! Rather than quit your job immediately to pursue this career, though, research it. Dive deep into information on how to become one, then evaluate if it’s realistic.
Don’t buy into social media.
Sure, that celebrity is raking in millions and looks fabulous all the time. But that’s just a small percentage of people on earth, and they aren’t showing the ugly sides of their lives. Chances are, they’re struggling with their life just like you. Instead, follow people who are open about the less-than-perfect aspects of life.
Be grateful for what you have.
Journaling is an easy way to practice gratitude – simply write down a list of things you appreciate each day. It doesn’t matter if it’s small or big – acknowledging something is all that matters. Meditation can help, too – look into apps and products that can help you feel zen.
Mid-life crises don’t have to haunt you. As long as you’re allowing yourself to feel while also keeping yourself in check, it will pass. How have you been dealing with crises of your own? Do you have any advice? Leave it in the comments.
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