Of all the men between 40-60 years, only 10% have been shown to experience symptoms of a full blown midlife crisis, according to several studies done since the 1980’s. Elliott Jaques coined the term in 1965, and many studies on the subject have been done since that validate his theory, but also prove it’s not as prevalent as many would like to think.
True, 10% is still a lot of people. Yet I think many people who think they, or someone they know, is going through a crisis, is actually going through a realization. That’s my theory, or my take on a common theory, anyway. They maybe were wild as teenagers, then decided to live responsibly and raise a family, and now that the children have left the nest, they realize they can now approach life from a different perspective. So going through a little change is normal.
“But how do I know if I’m one that’s in that 10% range?” you may ask.
The answer to that is different for everybody, and depends on several factors. So let’s look at how you may be feeling, symptoms you may be displaying, and known stressors that might contribute to any predisposition you might have towards experiencing this phenomena.
- Searching for an undefined, unknown goal or dream
- Deep remorse that you have not accomplished your goals
- Fear of being humiliated by your more successful colleagues
- Strong desire to feeling youthful again
- A need to be with only certain peers, or to just be alone
- Abusing alcohol or drugs (all of the sudden)
- Unusual spending on expensive items, like vehicles, fancy gadgets, clothing, or body art
- Pretending your average material items are top-of-the-line items
- Persistent depression
- Constantly blaming self for failures
- Being obsessed with appearance (such as wearing the latest designer clothes, covering baldness, etc.)
- Engaging in, and fostering relationships with younger folks (e.g, professional, parental, or sexual, etc.)
- Increasingly demanding excellence on your children
Possible Causes–Problems with, Changes in, or Regrets about the following:
- Career or work
- Aging children
- Death or aging of parents
- Physical body showing signs of aging
The above are just possible causes, and do not necessarily mean one is going through a midlife crisis if they experience any of the above. But if someone is predisposed to having a crisis, the above might add to the stress and contribute to triggering off the onset of an actual psychological dilemma that needs to be addressed. That is when you need to be most honest with yourself, and those who are close to you, and which might ultimately require counseling.
But remember, 90% of folks do not go through a crisis. It’s more often a stereotype that is erringly attributed to many, when in reality it only applies to very few.
We’ve all had moment of stress in our lives, and times when we were depressed or happy. Only you can know if the current state of your psyche is abnormally stressed, and if it’s more intense or prolonged than normal. You may not being going through a ‘crisis’ at all, even if a few of the above symptoms, feelings, and possible causes apply to you. Heck, some of the above apply to everyone at any stage in their life, whether young or old!
If you strongly believe that you are not going through a crisis, then power to you. And even if you are going through a crisis, I say this: aging is not a crisis, it’s a stage in life. Aging is a process, not a dilemma. I guess for some, maybe it is full of a heightened sense of immediate urgency–and that is natural, too…for some. But for most, aging is about changing. We’ve been changing since the day we were born. Life cannot exist without change. Try to embrace this change as an opportunity, and an experience, and a wonderful ride.
Sometimes what we call a ‘breakdown’ is actually a ‘breakthrough’. Instead of living a life where you strive for comfort, in order to avoid pain or stress–you’ve now decided that comfort often only comes when you’re willing to take a risk. Maybe you’re not avoiding and ignoring where you are in life right now–you’re embracing it!
So go ahead:
- Buy that new motorcycle
- Get that sports car
- Go sky diving
- Take a long vacation
- Follow your dream!
Does buying a new sports car take all that pain and depression away? No, but it still feels good to drive one! And you’ve been wanting a sports car or motorcycle like this since you were, oh, say…12?! Come on! Why not have some added joy in your life now? Besides, you don’t need a family car anymore, and you can now afford one…so go for it! Buying a sports car isn’t a midlife crisis–it’s a privilege! And even if you are going through manopause–so what!
You’ve lived a long hard life, and it’s not even half over, so don’t quit living it up now!
So buckle up, put on your gloves, and go find a good paved back road so you can really feel how the horsepower handles under your sturdy hands, baby!
Sera Filson is a writer, professional student, health enthusiast, and proud mother. When she’s not writing, exercising, or playing with her son, she supports the Sono Bello Blog by following Sono Bello on Twitter and Sono Bello on Facebook.