Most people have a mid life crisis about meaning and the kind of legacy they want to leave behind, or a rethinking about health and the way they live their lives, plastic, environment, animal rights, and all that kind of stuff. The wisest ones just buy a Porsche and get it done and over with.
I’m having a mid life crisis about how to feel to be mid-life, or sort of mid-life. Specifically, how am I, a 37-year-old human being, is to act and behave, or to feel about oneself, particularly in relation to those older, younger, and similar generation.
A few months ago, I received an unexpected email from somebody I had never met. She sent me a few paragraphs of how she found my writing and my work, how she thought it was meaningful, and how she would love to talk to me more about my experience. So, we found a time to meet. She is at least 15 years younger than me. I knew that. We met, we chatted, she asked lots of questions. I talked and preached and rambled. It was inspiring talking to people younger than me, the wide-eye curiosity and sense of experimentation was uplifting.
I left the meeting energetic, and puzzled.
She seemed to take in everything I said. Most of what I said she had not thought of. She had no corporate experience, she had not thought about “leadership” or “management”. She found facilitating a workshop daunting and was intrigued by what I do with companies. She wanted to know more about group relations and books to read. She thought publishing a book was beyond her wildest dreams. I was puzzled at why she thought everything I said made sense, when half the time I am not sure what to say?
I stopped in my tracks on the way to my next meeting. It dawned on me that she looked up to me, and related to what I said as advice! The same way I had looked up to a 40+ year old executive telling me about his experience on that first day I joined the company out of university, the same wide-eyed curiosity and insecurity and enthusiasm and hope and determination I saw in this young girl I had just spoken to. Blimey! That was scary to realize that, because inside I knew I was no more accomplished than the stranger who just walked by. We all have our stories.
Over the years, the insecurity stayed and amplified. The rest seemed to have dwindled and fizzled off, occasionally paying a visit.
It made me think of how others relate to me, not just those younger, but those older, the peers, the people I work with. I feel like a kid most of the time and yet to some, I’m a “mentor” – how is that even possible? I turn to the Book of Life’s article, “How to Become An Adult.” They discuss the same thing that I would like to say with much more eloquence. Such a strange concoction of feelings, even though I am one and the same: the sense of timidity and insecurity when I am with people senior to me, or I think are more “accomplished” than I am (worse if they were younger), the self-consciousness when with peers, and the “where do I place myself” thought when with those junior to me, knowing that I was every ounce a kid as they were, if not more.
Who am I as an adult? How do others see me when I pull up a pony tail, throw on an Oscar-the-Grouch or Grumpy Care Bear t-shirt, slip on a yellow skirt and multicoloured leggings? And then, am I the same person if I put on a dress of some sort, match it with turquoise heels and nail polish, and remember to put on my wedding ring?
I am one of the lucky ones, having found this golden meaning to my work, even though I do not make any money. So, this mid-life crisis is not about meaning or legacy. It’s more about stepping into my own authority, or some sh!t like that, whilst maintaining the spirit I carry with my poo cushions, poo toys, poo stickers, rubber duckies, picture illustration books, and bears. Oh, lots of bears!
I do not need to put people on pedestals, nor do I have to put myself down. Neither do you.
But, if I had the dough, I’d say buying the Porsche is definitely much easier, and of course, solves ALL the problems! 🙂