Midlife crisis and what I think about it

I hear it all the time. “You did this because of your midlife crisis.” There are dozens of posts online that would say what a midlife crisis is and how people should be ashamed of it. How they should deal with it, how to overcome it. You always get that picture of someone who is having an awful time and ruining what they have, and posts tell you how to overcome it and get back to where you were and how to spot it.
People throw it at the face of their friends or loved ones.
What does it mean?
I have noticed that midlife crisis starts to be discussed after someone turns anything from 35 to 60. The person in that “crisis” starts to look for something they never had before. Ask questions, or even (god forbid) exercise and pursue new knowledge or hobby. How much of a crisis is that?

I lived my life trying to perform for people expecting me to act in a certain way. It was pretty straightforward. It includes going through school, then college, finding a job, having some fun like traveling and skills. Getting married (preferably before 30), having kids, and after kids are grown, more work, then financial achievement, then grandkids, all good in the family kingdom, all good in the economic domain, and then time to retire. How easy is it to find oneself in this strict, rigid scenario? If the marriage and kids are so far away from actual cravings in life that we suppressed constantly?

And then the person who followed that scenario starts to ask questions, such as “am I happy finally? Have I had anything I wanted in my life? Why do I feel trapped? Why do I not feel the anticipation? Why do I not feel like my life is rich each and every day? What do I actually want? What do I do to figure it out? How do I even tell people I live with about what I want? They will likely think that I was pretending all this time. Will they accept me? Will they listen? Will they try to understand me outside of this arrangement? How? What? What is next? Will I ruin everything I have by stepping out for a bit? Does my whole time actually belong to others? What do I do to convince them? Am I responsible for hurting others because I want to go away for a day or two to be by myself or connect with other people? Am I an asshole doing that? Why do they walk away and accuse me of any single sin in the bible because I wanted to have a day by myself? Why do I feel so trapped and so unfulfilled while walking every single step that someone needed me to?”.

The common thought is that you start and you stick to that line of living, and every single step away marks you as unhappy.

What I saw is that a lot of us start our lives having some predetermined scenario. How do you break out of all of the entanglement of marriage that your relatives wanted? How do you break out from the kid/kids you thought you should have by a certain age? How do you become happy? How do you get back to your wife/husband that you might even love still and tell them you want something entirely different? How do you convince them that you still love them and you will forever, but you need something outside of that? When there’s no more passion, but respect and desire to be supportive. How do you break through all the black rhetorics such as “you always do that” or “you are not committed to the family” or “you are not a good father/mother or a good husband/wife”?
When there is no more walking around a new place holding hands and taking each other in weird places, no having a perfectly comfortable silence or doing something really inappropriate because the minute desire got you right there, there is no more comfort in speaking your mind. How weird is that if you want to spend time with someone who wouldn’t tell you that “you need to take care of your family”? Or “you need to dedicate yourself to your family” or “you can have your own space but not now” (and the not now turns into not tomorrow, not next week, maybe one hour here and there, pick the time when you are not a serving to the family and the whole idea of being a decent person). How, after ten years of running the ropes, can you say you want it differently? The wall to break is so thick that you will break your head over it, and there will probably be emptiness and fear if you try.

I had my crisis when I realized that I was just performing on the stage for others, following the rules, trying to get into a Procrustean Bed of what society thinks. I had it when I was 24. I dropped everything I had, including a very ludicrous office job, and left to look for something real. It felt empty as I had no idea who I was, what I was looking for, why, when, how to find myself. I was lucky not to have permanent fixtures such as kids, a husband, a house to die at. I saw myself climbing mountains, literally and figuratively. I saw myself learning and constantly developing for decades, and I had a hard time admitting that the only thing that mattered for me was whether I enjoyed myself at that very right moment. Not with drugs, not with expensive items, but with that ultimate feeling of accomplishment and everyday improvement and the unique experiences that got entrenched into my psyche. Life richness, pleasure and perseverance, and also the anticipation for the future.

It is hard to break out of the scenarios and predetermined ideas and the tight shackles of other people’s expectations. But not trying it, not asking questions, and seeking answers are way more deadly.

What do I think about the construct of midlife crisis… I believe that it puts people who have questions into a psychological jail. A midlife problem is, in my opinion, something that was made up by people who don’t want to pursue something outside written rules. I encourage myself and others to seek life richness, passion, tenderness, and no time or age stamp on those. It can and will happen to anybody who dares to try and be happy for once. And it is entirely possible without hurting loved ones or ourselves.