It’s time to reinvent the good old 80s midlife crisis for millennials, Cuspers and Gen Xers. What a time to be alive. Here we are living our lives in 2021 going on 2022 with all the baggage of our 70’s & 80’s upbringing telling us to stick to the script, stay in our lanes and live the lives we planned in the heady days of the nineties and noughties. Wow things were different back then, when we were young(er). The internet did not exist in our homes until highschool. We sort of trusted banks pre credit crunch and there was no such thing as social media let alone covid. I had my first baby before supportive Whatsapp groups were a thing, we used to email each other in the small hours while feeding.
The world has changed and we have been through a lot. So would it not follow that our dreams and goals for our lives can change too? Are we not entitled to a good old fashioned midlife crisis? Or even better can we shake it up and rebrand it for our own use as a midlife reinvention, taking away the shame around the idea we have to be in crisis to want to change our paths.
Imagine the midlife crisis reinvented as an essential tool we can use to refresh and realign our lives. A tool we could use at any time in our lives. How about we all feel free to reinvent ourselves and our lives whenever we want to? Why not? Are you living a life you planned in the 90s / 2000s as a bright eyed, clueless teen or twenty something? It’s normal, it’s the way we live and it’s important to thank that younger version of you and celebrate how far you’ve come and all you’ve achieved. However, you do not have to keep living their dreams and plans. You might also find that the reverse is true for you… maybe you’ve strayed too far from what the youthful, idealist version of you wanted from life and would benefit from reconnecting to that.
Collins dictionary defines a midlife crisis as a period of doubt and anxiety that some people experience in middle age, when they think about whether their life is the kind of life that they want.
What if we felt good about regularly reinventing ourselves and our lives to make sure we’re already living the kind of life we want? Could we shake off the doubt and anxiety? Could we already be living our best lives as we head into midlife and avoid a crisis of any sort?
I’ve recently realised a lot of the doubt, stress and anxiety I was experiencing in my life was being caused by this unconscious sense that I wasn’t actually living the kind of life that I wanted to live.
My younger self was passionately invested in working in marketing or publishing (she thought this would be so glamorous), she was set on marrying a fun, spontaneous, handsome and affectionate man and having 3 kids.
And what she wanted she worked very hard for and I got. So there I was in 2018, 37 years old, working as a senior marketing manager for a media company (the actual opposite of glamour it turns out), my third child was two years old and my marriage on the edge of divorce because unknown to me or my husband his spontaneity and fun were heavily linked to undiagnosed ADHD. Our initially charmed marriage was hit hard by his struggles to take responsibility for daily life and managing a growing family. In 2018 I had everything my younger self had dreamed of and a whole lot she had no idea would even be a thing. The stress on this was too much for me and I started to experience flare ups of a still undiagnosed autoimmune condition.
There were 2 options at this point. The first is: I go full Eat, Pray Love on my life. Cry on the bathroom floor, abandon my family, move to India and marry a woman. It’s tempting. I won’t lie.
At this stage I feel so overwhelmed by life that all I want to do is escape. People are telling me how awesome my life is and how I’m so lucky to “have it all” – an incredible family and an awesome job- and yes I do have those things, but also there’s so much more to life. So many other elements that my millennial upbringing didn’t prepare me for. If it was just the job and the family I could manage better, but it’s a marriage you’ve got to work on too, your health, your social life, your parents, siblings, 2 of my kids have special needs and more. Life is so much richer than I thought it would be and also so much more of a challenge to enjoy.
And that’s when I decided I wanted a second option. I wasn’t ready to let go of everything I’d worked to build over the last decade…I decided to stay in my life and have a well managed, productive transformative midlife reinvention.
I started working with a coach and exploring alternative stress management techniques like reflexology and breathwork. I worked on negative thought patterns, negative and positive self talk and limiting self beliefs.
A lot came up for me during this part of my life, this transition time. I was terrified that if I was honest and looked hard at my life I’d have to admit I had wasted 10 years and that my marriage would be over. In reality the opposite was true. By looking at all areas of my life I realised I’d been getting most of my life’s feel good factor from my marriage, so when it was down all the good feelings were down and it felt like a catastrophe. Working on other areas of my life to build up a more balanced flow of good feels took some pressure off my marriage and gave it some space to breathe.
How did I work on other areas of my life? I started to learn to really celebrate everything I’d done instead of always focusing on the 1% I didn’t get right. I remember telling my coach about the one time I’d failed a bit at work. Someone senior had expressed mild disappointment at the results of a project I’d worked on. It crushed me. Totally destroyed my confidence in myself because I was only looking for validation from others, outside myself and usually from traditional patriarchal figures. Guess what? I don’t have the same values as these people so I would probably never satisfy them and always find myself lacking if I’d stayed trapped in that system of beliefs. Instead I’ve reinvented myself and I now look inside, to myself to know whether I’ve been successful at any endeavour. What (some) others think doesn’t matter as much.
I worked through the shame I had of “not being a success” in these mostly male patriarchal figures’ eyes and realised I wanted to imagine and live a different life where I made money doing something I actually loved, something that brought me joy every single day… I can still feel my imagined derisive laughter from the high powered male execs at my ideas. Imagine? Oh she’s so naive, she thinks she can make money doing something she loves? Silly little girl! She wants to feel joy hahaha. Joy?! Imagine wanting to feel joy and not wanting more money and more power and more recognition from us?! She will fail because she doesn’t want to be like us. I had a hard realisation then: I do not want to be like them. This is a realisation that was helped along by Glennon Doyle’s awesome book Untamed which I highly recommend.
This paragraph in particular struck a chord:
“You are here to decide if your life, relationships and world are true and beautiful enough for you. And if they are not and you dare to admit they are not, you must decide if you have the guts, the right – perhaps even the duty – to burn to the ground that which is not true and beautiful enough and get started building what is.”
― Glennon Doyle, Untamed
Breaking through the fear around admitting to myself that my life was not true and beautiful enough and embracing my power to choose the life I wanted to live as a powerful woman was probably the most important moment in my life so far. As part of this process I had learned how to feel. I used breathwork and coaching to navigate beneath my anxiety and face what was causing it. I gave myself permission to feel and express long suppressed anger, disappointment and sadness. Emotions I’d been taught to push down and numb at all costs. I realised that in order to numb my so-called “negative” emotions I was having to numb all my emotions and so all I felt was a thin veil of anxiety that was holding them all down in my body.
When I started to un-numb and accept all my emotions I became able to express myself and my needs and then release anything I no longer needed to carry. I let go of old anger, sadness and disappointment and a huge weight of old resentment as a result. I felt free. I started to feel gratitude, contentment and joy. I stopped feeling overwhelmed. I stopped feeling stressed out all the time. I became less irritable. I started to see myself through my own eyes as a brave trailblazer. I chose to actively reject the patriarchy and move out from under it’s oppressive thumb to forge my own path and allow myself to feel everything. This is so essential to me and my happiness and also for my daughter and sons. I want them to be able to learn from me how to choose a path that truly brings them joy.
My marriage still needed work and we sought ADHD specialist counselling but I was free to live the life I wanted to and do something I loved to make money. So the pressure on my marriage to bring me all the joy in life dissipated and we worked at making things better.
Now in 2021 I’m 40 years old and in some ways I am living the life I want. There’s still work to do but we’ve made some huge changes. We moved out of London, which we’d been wanting to do for 5 years. I took the plunge and took voluntary redundancy in July 2020. Something I never would have had the guts to do if I hadn’t started changing my life and the way I viewed things back in 2018. I’ve worked hard to discover my purpose (turns out the real reason I’m on this earth isn’t to make money for a rich business man) and I get a good amount of fulfilment, joy and feelings of significance from the work I do. I retrained as a coach and breathwork teacher. Now I work with people who want to make sure they are living their best life now, rather than wait for a midlife crisis to force them into a painful transition.
At its core my transition has many similarities to a good old fashioned midlife crisis but with none of the potentially very damaging extreme actions that could be caused by putting off changing your life until you’re at the point of crisis.
If you want to find out more about the powerful practices I teach people to help them get connected to their truth and live the lives they want to I’m running a free workshop exploring a unique combination of breathwork and creative play to unlock your potential & connect to your power with Carmen Da Silva Wells on Thursday 2 December 19:30 which you can find out about here
A bit more detail about the course
A unique combination of breathwork and creative play to unlock your potential & connect to your power
Are you ready to step out of overwhelm, stress and anxiety and into a safe and gentle space to explore your potential and connect with your power?
Carmen and Jess will guide you through 7 weeks of playful creativity and energy shifting breathwork to help you to shift from stressed existence to joyful, powerful creator of your dream life.
We’ll meet for group sessions and one-to-ones with both Carmen and Jess to make sure you have everything you need to shift your energy, release anything that didn’t serve you in 2021 and create the life of your dreams starting in 2022.