Present Tense

Encouraging nonsense

“What if a mid-life crisis is just people going back to who they really are?”

During a conversation on this topic last week, that statement made me stop in my tracks and say a silent “YES”.

What this means is that at some point in middle age, we suddenly realize that it’s just too much work to be someone that we’re really not.

Being a grown-up is serious business.  We’re encouraged to leave behind our childhood passions, fantasies and often, talents in order to be successful, productive adults.  Society tells us there’s no time for nonsense once you hit a certain age.

Sometime in our 40s or 50s, the pull to allow some nonsense back in becomes too much to resist.  We feel the tug of our childhood passions and fantasies or we just decide that the whole nose-to-the-grindstone deal sucks.  We’ve lost our connection to what animates us and motivates us.  We don’t dance or sing or throw a ball around or swing or draw or color or write or cook for fun.

I think the reason that this evolution is often referred to as a ‘crisis’ is because most of the people in our adult lives didn’t know us as our real selves.  We met them in our grown up costumes, with our grown up character firmly in place.  If we begin to stray from that role, it can be unsettling for spouses, children, friends and bosses.  Easier to call it a crisis than to face it and talk about it.

I also think there is a double standard.  Women are allowed this metamorphosis much more so than men.  We can blame or credit menopause for our unusual behavior .  Guys just don’t have that luxury and that’s too bad because quite frankly, a sports car isn’t any more ridiculous than a girls trip to Tuscany; both serve a purpose and that is to let loose.

So, there.  You have permission to give in to your mid-life yearnings.  Don’t call it a crisis.  Call it a reset or a regression or a rebirth.  Take off your hot, repressive, suffocating grown-up mask and let the real you out again.  If other people complain or freak out, let ‘em.  They’ll be in their own crisis soon enough and you can guide them along.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put up a tire swing…..

August 25, 2013 - Posted by | Musings | , , , , ,


  1. Love love love it! As my husband and I sit here on our porch in our new house in the Texas Hill Country, overlooking our 11 acres, watching wildlife, discussing our play time with 5 more days until I am “retired” — our friends are wondering whatever we will do in our early retirement! Play and give back to the community, that’s what! Great post as always Jane!

    Comment by Mary | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Mary
      Good for you. We’re going to go play in our boat very shortly. Swimming with a ‘noodle’ is in my future:) Have fun.

      Comment by janelondon | August 25, 2013 | Reply

  2. I love this! It is so true that a midlife crisis is just our soul seeking to reassert itself and let the real person re-emerge after all these years. I don“t really think it is a moment in time that just goes away either. It is the beginning of a new stage in our lives where we get to begin a new life that is authentically us. Midlife crisis has a humorous connotation but there is really nothing so funny about it at all. It is a new enriching path to the life we were meant to live and how lucky is that!

    My life is much more amazing since my `midlife crisis`and it is still evolving. I blogged about it as I went through it and still do. And there are lots of others who share the strength that comes from the crisis time.

    Comment by Kelly @Try New Things | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Kelly
      Some people manage to stay in touch with their true self throughout their lives, but a lot of us don’t and we may need a reminder to go back to us.

      Comment by janelondon | August 25, 2013 | Reply

  3. I’m a type-A personality, so I launched my mid-life crisis by leaving a high-paying job in management in a software company to do a similar job in a start-up, with all the nail-biting stress that implies. Sometimes I wish I had just bought the sports car.

    Comment by Jim Grey | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Jim:
      You still can….:)

      Comment by janelondon | August 25, 2013 | Reply

  4. Reblogged this on benzintensiveme's Blog and commented:
    Yes. *This* Thank You Jane London. I’ve been searching for answers & “Bam!” this hit like a ton of bricks!!

    Comment by benzintensiveme | August 25, 2013 | Reply

  5. This is amazing Jane… once again, searching for answers &… here it is. My real self is peaking out, but, with always wanting to keep everyone happy, it is hard to stand by & watch/let loved ones freak out. Going a little nuts at the moment, (this may explain the Drag Racing!) hope there is smooth sailing ahead & That I don’t need to be apologetic for the real me….

    Comment by benzintensiveme | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Well, let ‘er rip. Shedding our old skin can be empowering to us, but very disturbing to those who are forced to watch:)

      Comment by janelondon | August 25, 2013 | Reply

  6. That’s it, Tuesday morning I am cancelling therapy and taking the boys to tour the “Big House”, Michigan stadium and I’m gonna wear a t-shirt and long work out shorts and tennis shoes. There, it has begun, and I think the fellas will like it.

    Comment by Tim Lankerd, Ann Arbor, Mi. | August 25, 2013 | Reply

    • Tim,
      Do it:) They’ll love it! So, will you…

      Comment by janelondon | August 25, 2013 | Reply

  7. Perfectly said! I am so glad that I’ve had my “mid-life crisis” a bit on the early side. I turn 40 in two months. I hope this means I can spend the next 40+ years being who I really am!

    Comment by Heidi Jeter | August 26, 2013 | Reply

  8. Well said Jane. I also think this is why so many women this age want to get divorced. So we can be OURSELVES. We’ve spent the last 25 to 30 years having to compromise what we really want to do and who we are, for our husbands and children and now we want ME time. We want to finally do something we WANT to do and not just what we HAVE to do. And if you don’t have a supportive husband it’s very hard to do.

    Comment by tracy martinez | October 28, 2013 | Reply

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