Time is (not) on our side: Midlife Crisis anyone?
Regrets? Yes, I’ve had more than a few as years keep slipping past. Thinking too much about them only makes me feel sad and old though! As it is, I fear that this year I’m no longer approaching middle age, but perhaps, have already arrived there and have just been in denial about it. I really can’t keep pushing out the age where I qualify just because it seems impossible that I could be THAT old already! But accepting this unwanted status might mean some serious stocktaking that I’ve been purposely avoiding. I see acquaintances and friends that I consider to be very accomplished, popular, successful people reaching the same kind of milestone, and quite frankly – freaking the hell out. Midlife crisis anyone? It seems none of us have managed to tick all the boxes when it comes to our expectations of life. The really sad thing is that even a normally sane and perfectly happy person is made utterly miserable by comparing ‘Where I am now’ to ‘Where I think I’m supposed to be at this age’. There’s an obvious conclusion here – stop comparing yourself to those unrealistic expectations. Chances are that few of those goals would actually contribute significantly to your happiness anyway.
If there’s one skill that I keep trying to learn from my son, it’s to live in the moment. Within reason, obviously – we don’t want to be broke and homeless on the streets this time next year. But everything is ultimately a waste of time if you can’t say you’ve enjoyed some of the path you travelled to wherever you’re attempting to get to. Who knows if any of us will ever reach the magical fairytale land of ‘having it all’, or if we’d even be happier there? So best to hedge your bets and have a bit more fun on the way, just in case it really all is about the journey, not the destination. Somehow one of the most difficult things for me to master is to see the glass as being half full every day. Time and time again I catch myself not appreciating the positive things in our day like I should. I see my son sit for 10 minutes happily exploring some random thing and wish I found it that easy to delight in everyday ordinary miracles. Having said that, he’s hardly the picture of contented stability as next thing I know he’s having a total meltdown about nothing. It’s all extremes of emotion for him. But his joyful play does serve as a reminder that I should strive to have more of those simple, but perfect moments, instead of steadily dull, plodding days. All it would take is to step back and stop focusing on the negatives, instead of all the positives.
There are very few of my ‘regrets’ to date that I would go back in time and change for fear of missing out on some of the most important things in my life that might only have come about due to those very things. The twists and turns of my life have brought me my amazing husband and son. So better to focus instead on the future, and trying to live my middle-to-old ages in a way that encourages me to live in the now, not obsess about what might have been. I constantly wish I could send back to my younger self the understanding that time brings. Like not worrying about the social hierarchy in school. That super popular girl that everyone wants to be? Not doing any better than you now. The kid everyone thought was boring/weird? Apparently having a great life that everyone else now envies. That stuff you didn’t get to do? Really not that important in the greater scheme of things. If I think of all the wisdom I’d like to send back in time, most of it still applies to life right now in some shape or form. It’s time to start living that way in the here and now, instead of obsessing about a past I can’t change, and a future I don’t fully control. Instead, I want to fill my every day with precious memories and strive to uncover the best parts of each one, no matter how well-hidden they may be.
So here’s to being middle-aged. And hopefully to spending those fleeting years being wiser, happier, but still young at heart. Turn up the music…
You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.