About a year ago, I bought a sports car. Although I’m in my mid-30s, bewildered friends and family started throwing around the word “midlife” crisis.
I thought it was funny how buying myself something that brought me joy (and something that I’d wanted for years but couldn’t afford until recently), was somehow a sign of a “crisis” rather than something to be celebrated.
In fact, there is a lot of spilled ink (or bytes) about men and the midlife crisis. Most articles about a midlife crisis lament the fact that a man has regressed in maturity and starts “acting like a teenager again.” Usually, these same articles give advice about how a guy needs to get his life back on track and end the crisis.
I’m going to take a different view and argue that not only can a midlife crisis be a good thing, but that many guys need to have a midlife crisis. Although I speak from the male perspective, the same advice can definitely apply to women. In fact, here are signs you (man or woman) should have a midlife crisis.
You’ve Lost Your Passion
I can remember being a teenager and having so much energy. If I put my mind to it, I could play basketball for hours, hang out with my friends endlessly, and stay up late talking to a girl on the phone (sometimes all in the same day). Most guys have those memories. Many of them are very old memories.
Many men, once they reach their 30s, 40s, and 50s, barely have the energy to get out of bed. Sure, the body slows down, but that’s not the main reason. They simply have lost their passion and energy for life due to their lifestyles.
When a guy puts on 100 pounds, works 50 hours a week, then spends his evening doing chores around the house, he doesn’t have much left in the tank. And, it’s even worse when he has no friends or hobbies to speak of, except watching TV in bed. No wonder he doesn’t want to get up to further live his drudgery.
If you have no passion for life anymore and you haven’t seen your best friends or done your favorite activities in years, then you definitely need to have a midlife crisis. Life is way too short to live it without energy and passion.
Your Dreams Are On Life Support
How many kids looked out the window during math class and day dreamed about working in a cubicle? How many teenagers longed for a life working 40-50 hours a week at a terrible job, where they came home angry and stressed every day? Very few indeed.
Many guys approach middle age and they are forced to take an honest look at their own mortality. They realize they’re no longer young anymore and their time to make an impact is running out.
Sure, it might seem crazy to see a 50-something guy take a vacation to the Bahamas, buy a motorcycle, start to become a gym rat, or try to date younger women. But, in reality, he’s just doing the things he’s always wanted to do, but put off for one reason or another (usually that reason was because someone else told him how to be happy and it didn’t).
I guarantee that on a person’s death bed, he isn’t going to look back and wish he’d followed more corporate policies or sacrificed his precious hours so a CEO could have another boat. Instead, he’s going to look back and ask, “why didn’t I buy the motorcycle I always wanted” or “why didn’t I take that vacation I dreamed of since I was 19?”
If you have many unfulfilled dreams, then maybe a midlife crisis is just what you need to get your dreams off of life support. There’s nothing like a sense of your own mortality to get you focused on the good things in life.
By the way, now is a good time to mention I’m not talking about abandoning families, shirking responsibilities or going on criminal sprees. Rather, I’m talking about a guy getting in touch with what really matters in life: friends, family, relationships, and living life in an abundant, happy manner, even if it rubs uptight people the wrong way.
You Live for Others
A woman I know was raised in a very strict religious household. It was so strict that it forbade seeing movies. She broke that silly rule, but each time she went to the movies, she lived in fear that Jesus would return at that moment and punish her! She couldn’t enjoy a movie fully until years later when she finally got over her stifling upbringing.
But, she’s not alone. We all live for other people. It might be a boss who keeps you over when your kid is having his big baseball game or an overbearing mother who shamed you into dumping your true love and marrying someone you hated. It could be a spouse who thinks you’re spending “too much time at the gym” and “becoming obsessed” simply because he or she doesn’t like to see you improving physically while they remain sedentary and lazy.
It might even be the subtle peer pressure of popular culture that convinced you to settle into a life you hate, but still live just to “keep up appearances.”
Men (and even women) who pursue their own paths, especially at a later age are often mocked or even considered mentally ill.
A guy leaves his 60 hour a week job that’s sending him to an early grave to start a small business, and people lament that he’s throwing his life away, because he may not be able to pay the mortgage on a home he barely stepped foot in anyway.
Another guy takes up a bicycling hobby and people suggest he’s “too old” for that, and should get back to spending time sitting watching TV all weekend.
An unhappy man wants to get out of a long dead marriage, and friends and family suggest he get on meds instead.
Another man finds a younger friend group to run 5ks with and people his own age (who never make time to see him) bitterly object that he can’t have anything in common with his new buddies. And, if he actually starts to *date* someone from that younger friend group, the knives will come out, and he’ll be accused of “robbing the cradle” and being a “creep.”
While no man should live selfishly, neither should he live his life solely to please other people. At some point, he has to take ownership of his own life and think about his own happiness. For many guys, that is ridiculed as a midlife crisis, when, in reality, they just stop letting others push them around and take charge of their lives.
So, if you are getting older and hate your life, maybe it’s time to have a midlife crisis. And, use that crisis to make the changes you’ve been putting off, maybe for your entire life! We are blessed with a short amount of time on earth. Don’t waste it living in a way you’ll regret when your time runs out.
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