IT HAPPENS WHEN ...
It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are many things about
yourself that you didn't know and may not like.
You start feeling insecure and wonder where you
will be in a year or two, but then get scared
because you barely know where you are now.
You start realizing that people are selfish and
that, maybe, those friends that you thought
were so close to aren't exactly the greatest
people you have ever met, and the people you have
with are some of the most important
What you don't recognize is that they are
realizing that too, and aren't really cold,
mean or insincere, but that they are as
confused as you.
You look at your job... and it is not even close
to what you thought you would be doing, or
you are looking for a job and realizing that you
are going to have to start at the bottom and that
Your opinions have gotten stronger.
You see what others are doing and find yourself
judging more than usual because suddenly you
realize that you have certain boundaries in your
life and are constantly adding things to your
list of what is
acceptable and what isn't.
One minute, you are insecure and then the next,
You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your
You feel alone and scared and confused.
Suddenly, change is the enemy and you try and
cling on to the past with your dear life, but
realize that the past is drifting further and
further away, and there is nothing to do but stay
are or move forward.
You get your heart broken and wonder how someone
you loved could do such damage to you.
Or you lie in bed and wonder why you can't meet
anyone decent enough that you want to get to
Or maybe you love someone but love someone else
too and cannot figure out why you are doing
because you know that you aren't a bad person.
One night stands and random hook ups start to
Getting wasted and acting like an idiot starts
to look pathetic.
You go through the same emotions and questions
over and over, and talk with your friends about
the same topics because you cannot seem to make a
You worry about loans, money, the future and
making a life for yourself... and while winning
the race would be great, right now you'd just
like to be a contender!
Is midlife a quest or crisis?
Midlife is the old age of youth and the youth of old age.
If this is true then many people are standing on the threshold of a "new youth." It is what Gail
Sheehy in her book, New Passages, calls the "second adulthood." We all have a second chance at becoming the person we are
meant to be. This second chance is called midlife. However, midlife is a new and often dangerous territory.
What is a helpful image for the midlife process? Perhaps it is the Midlife Quest in which there
is a challenging adventure of seeking, exploration, and discovery. Or, it might be Midlife Metamorphosis where there is the
profound change of reformation and transformation. Another image is that of Midlife Renaissance with a new birth, a new beginning,
and a chance to start over. There is also the possibility of Midlife Crisis where there is a sense of urgency along
with intense emotion and perplexity. Of the four possibilities it is Midlife Crisis that is ultimately most appropriate. This
is because the two fundamental elements of crisis are found in all of the images.
A Dangerous Opportunity
The Chinese word for crisis readily shows these two basic elements. In the Chinese language the
ideogram for crisis is made up of two separate characters. One of these characters represents "danger" and the other represents
"opportunity." Thus the proper translation of crisis from Chinese is as a "dangerous opportunity." Any crisis in our lives
provides the chance for change and growth -- the opportunity -- as well as the risk of regression or stagnation -- the danger.
In the images of Quest, Metamorphosis, or Renaissance both opportunity and danger exist. You may not always attain the goal
of the Quest, the Metamorphosis may not be complete, and the Renaissance may be a still birth. The danger of midlife is very
real. Successful transition to the next life stage is not guaranteed.
When entering the challenging and crisis oriented territory of midlife it is helpful to have a
map. A map can orient you, give a direction, and indicate a goal. It identifies the danger and opportunity. Maps come in all
shapes and sizes. They can be vague only suggesting the way or may be detailed and provide several paths to follow.
This series of Midlife Web Pages provide maps as general orientations to midlife. If you are to
take the midlife journey, you need to know the terrain, understand the destination, and have a goal in mind.