When I was younger, I never gave much thought to what “middle age” means. We know that Google never lies and Google says that middle age is the ages between 45 and 65. I like to arrive to appointments early and true to form, I’m 43 and thinking I’m already at “middle-age”. But what does this mean, really? I’ve heard of middle aged people suddenly changing careers or buying expensive, fancy cars and wondered, What is THAT about??. This article from Huffpost had me wondering whether or not I should be laughing or crying at the criteria of middle-aged-ness.
I don’t know what others my age or older are going through, but I can tell you what it feels like for me. What it feels like is, well, kind of scary. When I was young, my hair was thick, my waistline small, and my energy level was up. I was just starting to find my footing in the world, and I thought, “I’ve got my whole life ahead of me!” My kids were babies and it seemed that they’d be living at home with me under my care for countless decades. The reality is, my 20s passed so quickly that I’m not sure I really went through them. My 30s were spent raising my kids and sending my eldest off to college. Now my second kiddo is getting ready to leave and I’m kind of marveling at the speed in which the decades of my life are flying by…like a train charging full speed ahead.
Like others my age, it’s hard admitting that I’m not my pre-kids weight. My hair is thinning and I think my dogs have more energy than me and all they do is SLEEP. But mostly, I don’t mind the fact that the years are passing quickly because my life is full right now of love and kids and busy schedules. But I’ve been turning inward and thinking about how I’ve let life tell me what was going to happen to me. In other words, I think I’ve been living my life reactively and not proactively. Things would happen and I would say, “Well, I guess I’m dealing with this now. I’ll get through it.” My mindset has been to be strong, no matter what came my way, which really means I expected to hear “no” a lot and learned to accept rejection. What my almost-middle-aged-mind is thinking now is, “I should have dictated to life what I was going to do instead of the other way ’round!”. Of course things will happen that are not always in our control, but I feel that maybe 80%- 90% of my life should have been me taking decisive steps toward one thing or another.
Not all is lost, though. There is a beauty to being middle aged: God-willing, you still have your health and the energy you need to start something new and get the momentum going. I can still say, “I might live another 40+ years!” Plenty of time to learn new things or start a new career.
I’m still a little stuck, though. The question I’m asking myself now is, “Who am I?”. I haven’t come up with an answer yet. I literally meditate on it and think about it nearly every day. It’s difficult changing my mindset at this age. I feel like beach glass: worn my time and circumstance. But I want to envision myself as a phoenix: rising out of the ashes into something new and amazing. “Middle-aged” doesn’t mean “dead”. I think it’s the time we can take stock and determine whether or not we’re living our lives the way we want. Some people realize they don’t like their jobs and change careers. Others may realize they spent their whole lives saving money and being frugal and now they just want to splurge on that new car. Me? I’m still figuring it out. I won’t focus on the time that’s passed. Rather, I’ll think about the potential time I have left. Maybe I’ll learn to play guitar? Or the piano? I’ve always wanted to do that. In 20 years, when I’m 63, I might actually be really good at it! The point for me is to get past my vanity over the physical changes I’m going through and concentrate on what will be soul-fulfilling for the rest of my life 🙂
Writer Bio: CJ Heath