For the last six months, I’ve been in the throes of a major midlife crisis, but in the last month, the fog of depression and self-deprecation has started to lift. It’s still a battle, but at least I don’t wake up every day feeling like my life has ended now that I’ve hit my mid-forties. When I do feel myself slipping backwards though, I follow these steps:
- Admit you are having a midlife crisis! The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? Quit thinking it’s just a little funk that will pass, or that you are having a few bad days in a row. Realize that you’re halfway or more through your life and that you have not where you thought you would be. Admit that all the confidence and cockiness as a twenty- and thirty-something has completely disappeared.
- Give yourself time to wallow in self-pity. It’s Ok to feel bad for a while and binge watch Netflix while you moan to yourself that if you didn’t accomplish your life goals by now, you probably never will! That book will never get published, that dream vacation will never happen, the addition to the house will never be affordable, and retiring anytime before the age of 85 will never be a reality. Go ahead and cry about it while watching strong female characters on the shows you binge watch prove that they can do anything and have everything — unlike you.
- Tell everyone who will listen that you are in the throes of a midlife crisis. It helps to talk about your problems, and whether your friends and family want to hear about it or not, tell them how miserable you feel and what a loser you are. Let them know why you quit running or going to yoga, and just want to sit on the couch eating junk food and numbing your mind with movie marathons.
- Listen to the responses of everyone you tell about your midlife crisis. The good thing about (most) family and friends is they will tell you how wrong you are about being a failure who has never amounted to anything. They will point out all of your accomplishments and your better attributes and convince you that this is just a slump. They will remind you of how much better off you are than so many people because of your talents and intellect, and that can never be taken away. And then, some more subtly than others will tell you to pull it together, set new goals, and start working toward them because you are just beating yourself up for no good reason.
- Pull up your big girl panties and move on! Eventually, all the pep talks and kicks in the butt will have an impact and you will start to believe what others tell you. You will notice all the people in this world who had their biggest accomplishments — sold their first books, started their companies, had their big breakthroughs — in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and older, and you will start to think that maybe life isn’t over after all. The voice in your head that says you can do it will start to shout louder than the voice trying to tell you that you are a middle aged loser with no hope. Then you set goals and get to work, because even if you are 50 years old, there are still several decades (or at least a couple decades) ahead of you to make something of yourself.
If you are not feeling better after completing step five, then repeat the cycle again until it works. And I’ll bet that, when the whole process is done and you’re finally on your way to making your life what you think it should be, it will be better than ever. Aging is not always fun, but one of the great things that comes with it is a sense of being more true to yourself and following your heart in a way that is much more genuine than when you were a cocky, yet really quite stupid, twenty year old.
Originally published on LoisTemplin.com.