The mention of the phrase “midlife crisis” can automatically bring to mind the image of a male between the ages of forty and fifty speeding down the freeway (on the California coast, of course) in his brand new red convertible, top down, trying desperately to get the attention of any young, attractive woman who happens to be passing by. I must admit to being guilty of this same assumption on more than one occasion, but when I found myself arriving at a a new decade in my own life and suddenly questioning for the first time how I had gotten to this place and where I was headed, I started to see midlife crisis in an entirely different light. There is a huge movement that is showing a shift in direction from the typical male midlife crisis to how this time in life can manifest itself in women. Is there a difference between the two, and if so, what is it? I arrived at this topic through my own experience. I never thought of what I was experiencing at all in terms of “midlife crisis”, but as I was researching my topic for this paper, I finally “googled” midlife crisis in women, and I-9, bingo: There it was. What I was feeling was put into words over and over again, hence the use of this term as it applies to me. Midlife crisis was first identified by psychologist Carl Jung, and Dr. Elliott Jaques, a psychoanalyst, social scientist and management consultant actually coined the phrase “midlife crisis”. Wikipedia defines midlife crisis as “a term used to describe a period of dramatic self-doubt that is typically felt in the "middle years" of life, as people sense the passing of youth and the imminence of old age.” If in fact what I am experiencing is a midlife crisis, I don’t necessarily agree with this particular definition, especially as it pertains to women. From a self-application standpoint, I must admit that aging is something that I have never really worried about or pondered until much more recently, but I also cannot honestly say that this is the crux of where these feelings lie. I have always considered myself to be very simple and down-to-earth, and have not obsessed about the vanity aspect that many of my peers embraced at a much younger age, although you can believe that once I realized that I was quickly approaching 40, I actually panicked and started using moisturizer and worrying about how my habits (or lack thereof) might be affecting my appearance and health later in life. Still, that’s really not what this is about for me. It’s so much more about coming to the realization that this is the one chance I get at life. Where am I now, and where do I want to be? What do I want to be when I grow up? Who do I want to be? How did I get to this place? How do I get to where I want to be, and what do I most need to change about myself to get there? There are several other definitions that I have come across that I feel are much more indicative of midlife crisis as I perceive it. I am going to reference some of the definitions which I most relate to, and then define it for myself.
An article in “More” magazine defines midlife crisis as “a time of profound psychological turbulence that usually occurs between the ages of 38 and 55, and often results in dramatic life changes” (Better, 2005).
As I research the topic of midlife crisis, I hesitate to use the word “crisis” at all. These feelings can certainly convey a sense of crisis at times, but I found a much better term for midlife crisis in an article I accessed at lessonsforliving.com. This article more appropriately refers to it as “midlife metamorphosis”. Because of the positive changes that can result from midlife crisis, I like the reference to more of an awakening than to that of a crisis. This article opens with a proverb that says a mouthful: "Midlife is the old age of youth and the youth of old age." (Midlife Metamorphosis para. 1). Perhaps Joseph Campbell says it best when he asserts that "Midlife is when...
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