During these unsettling times, I find the self-indulgence of a midlife crisis to be almost comforting in its relative normalcy. It feels weirdly soothing to be pissed with the world because I’m no longer 20, because there’s so much I want to learn and do and be, yet there just isn’t enough time or freedom to do it all. I need several lifetimes for what I want but I don’t get to have them, and getting myself properly fuckin’ infuriated over it is as good of an antidote as any for the low-level dread emanating from the internet.
Anyway, here are some comments I left over at Clarissa’s in her recent midlife-crisis thread.
A number of people IRL change careers or add a second career in the middle age, so it’s not just about the personal life, although it can be. I have been in the throes of a raging midlife crisis for several years, with no end in sight. I think the hallmark of a midlife crisis is the question “Seriously, this is all there is?” or “I’ve done everything I’ve set out to do. Now what?”Basically, re-evaluating of priorities and crafting a new set of goals that no longer hinge heavily on education or reproduction, but tend to be better aligned with a mature individual’s core values and their true passions (many of which were neglected since childhood in the pursuit of a lucrative career and/or mating prospects).
…there is research showing that a vast majority of people in the developed or semi-developed world do go through some form of midlife crisis. There’s psychoanalysis work dating all the way back to Jung and Freud on why it happens and why it’s developmentally appropriate.
So you did actually have a midlife crisis, but, since you were unencumbered by familial relationships, you could just leave once you decided you wanted to. Most people in their forties or thereabout cannot. I am the primary breadwinner and will be 60 when my youngest finishes college. I would love to just leave everything behind and go try to make a living as a screenwriter or move to Australia to do whatever or half a dozen other options, but I cannot, because there are people who depend on me financially and emotionally. Most folks have similar restraints. The midlife crisis stems from the conflict between the responsibilities of adulthood and the unfulfilled desires of youth, which comes to a head once a person has reached the end of the blueprint (education, mate selection/family, professional ascent).