When I was a teenager, then a twenty something; I thought middle age or (gasp) older was absolutely an dreadful place to be. Like many younger adults I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I knew better. I was always right. I did things the best way. Older people were out of touch.
I don’t want to be younger, nor do I look back at my own life or the younger beings around me with envy. I like where I am. I will even go the mat and say I think middle aged is the best part of life. After the crisis part of course. If you are “lucky” enough to have a mid life crisis at all.
I’m 45. To some that sounds like “only 45?” and to others that might sound like “45??? Gulp”.
The crisis was the worst/best part of coming to terms with life on life’s terms and with who I am. Not everyone will have one, and many who do have one will not change. With that aside, I believe that even without one; mid life is an awesome part of life.
The best thing is a combination of experience and health. If you reasonably take care of yourself, you can be fairly healthy during mid life. With almost 30 years of driving and workplace experience, these years are a sweet spot of cruising with confidence through otherwise tricky or unknown areas. No major physical decline yet combined with good reflexes, memory, and ability to pick up and respond to life’s surroundings.
By middle age most people (not all of course) are financially comfortable. Less worries about paying bills, less interest in having more, staying fashionable or climbing the ladder. It allows me to live and work with comfort. I’m old enough to be taken seriously, experienced enough to understand life/work dynamics, and still young enough to switch in a dime to learn new programs, policies, software, phone apps…
Aside from my far sightedness slightly declining each year at my annual Optometry visit, I’m in the best physical health of my life. I’ve learned to make sleep important, exercise a routine part of life, and to make wise food decisions for the sake of my health.
Mental hygiene takes a front place as well. I’m no longer embarrassed about having human responses to stress and pressure, so I don’t pretend they don’t exist and take an active stance in dealing with those types of things. I no longer view self care or down time as a reward or something for others, but a necessity to keep myself fresh, in good health and useful to society.
Speaking of embarrassment, caring about what other people think just isn’t a thing anymore. I’m not afraid to be myself or of failing. I know it’s a part of life and if anyone else judges that, it’s none of my business. As long as my intentions are pure I have nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I enjoy realizing when I messed up or was wrong and it feels good to acknowledge that to myself and others.
I have enough years of cooking experience to cobble things together from my pantry that taste phenomenal. I try all kinds of art projects I would have felt like a poser to attempt. I love the way I dress, decorate, garden, clean, cook, love others, and live my life. I have go-to recipes, outfits, and ways to entertain that work. I am comfortable with the skills I have and know my limitations on the skills I do not. I am so ok with what I lack. No one can have all they want.
In taking risks, I am excited to try new things. What is the worst thing if I don’t like it? I just won’t do it again.
I believe I can now live life with a good balance of safety and risk. Being young is often accompanied by an irrational idea of invincibility. I see many older people living with too much fear of too many things. I might get to that point too, but at this point I know I do not like the way fear feels. It makes me feel small and trapped rather than safe. Instead of succumbing to it, I live safely in my actions but am courageous enough to push through what a rational mind knows will be ok. That wasn’t the experience in my younger days!
There is so much more to say, but I’ll stop here. Honestly the mid life crisis and coming into what Richard Rohr calls “the second half” is what got me to a really beautiful place where acceptance of what is, is how I want to live life. It was about 8-10 years of chaos, and something for another blog.
I do not know better. I am absolutely not always right. There are so many ways to do things and different ways work for different folks. Older people have wisdom and our elders are our teachers.
So, I will ride the tides and adjust the sails instead of fighting the waves and expecting days of perfection. And I will enjoy this moment that will too pass where I am grateful to be healthy and middle aged.
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