I have been 38 for nearly two months now. Until recently, that meant very little to me. Age – like sweet desserts and the entire state of Texas – has consistently held only the most fleeting of passing interest for me.
When faced with the closing out of one decade and beginning of another, I’ve stepped onto the new path as if I’d been walking it all my life. I showed compassion for those around me who lamented their growing older, counting the changes and fearing what may or may not be to come. Secretly, though, I rolled my eyes at their foolishness. Age is something you can’t run from, why give all of your power and fear to it?
I’ve lately felt a building of ambivalence, staring in the face all of the things I need to accomplish – the deadlines, the work, the self-improvement, that spot on the wall I never wipe clean but think about doing so several times every day.
There has been a small but growing buzzing inside of me, a muted panicked questioning, like a fat black bee trying to fly out of a shut window again and again – buzzz BAM, buzzz BAM – waiting for me to open something and let it out. The idea of letting it out scares me.
Then recently it struck me: This is the Beginning of My Midlife Crisis.
At this time last year I was tackling the world. Or, trying to. My demands of the Universe were my daily mantra. I focused hard and connected myself to the Source Energy of the world at large to increase my Power Amanda strength. I actively looked for answers and told myself both in my thoughts and out loud, that I would find them. I meditated, gave thanks in advance, wrote down my dreams and intentions, made a fucking Pinterest vision board. But somewhere along the line, I went back to sitting in front of the computer screen for far too long, ignoring neon signs and generally continuing to fake my way through appearing confident at this job of life.
In short: I failed at empowerment. Sure, I’ve kicked some ass and have done some things I’m really proud of, but at the end of the day, I’m still sitting exactly where I was before I decided I could rock the socks off my world…and then didn’t.
I still find myself dreaming of dabbling, afraid of changing, knowing what I need to do but finding no clear sign as to what I’ll do next. Usually what this boils down to is: how will I pay the bills?
One would think, having witnessed more than one Midlife Crisis and having therefore been affected in various hurtful and wonderful ways, that I would have seen this train coming. It’s just that I always thought I was immune, since age has never bothered me.
The midlife crises I’ve witnessed have all been about age. “I’ll be 30 in a year and I haven’t even finished college yet!”
“I’m almost 40 and I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
“I need to publish a book by the time I turn 35 or I don’t even know.”
“When I was younger, I thought I would be a musician. Now I’m an accountant. How did that happen? No, really, how did that happen?”
I suppose mine is about age as well, though I can’t tell yet. The words are fairly similar, if a bit less specific:
I’m no longer satisfied settling for less than what I know I can get. I just don’t know how I’ll get it, and if I leave the comfortable place that I’m in, what will I do? What will I do?
As in, how will I pay the bills?
If I were a person of faith I think this is when I’d say “Let go and let God.” In layman’s terms I imagine this just means “hey, go for it. You might not know what lies around the corner but it’ll all be okay. Seriously.”
Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of the crippling fear felt by someone who lives paycheck to paycheck trying to grasp, and to trust, this concept.
It’s the fear of opening myself up and letting all that has been buzzing and banging around inside of me out. And then what?
Your “fucking Pinterest vision board” cracks me up. I’ve been advised multiple times that a vision board could help me. I respond with, “Enough with the fucking vision board. I live by a choose your own adventure book.” In short- long term goals (as in 6 months or 1 year) are all that can really drive one’s behavior. Without a sense of urgency, nothing gets accomplished. So, don’t been afraid of the ticking clocks- but stay motivated by knowing there is more to do and you know how to do it. Don’t ask permission. Don’t wait your turn. Do what you want and be willing to deal with the consequence if/when it comes.
But what do I know? I had a break for empowerment at 29 (read: life crisis) and on a day to day basis, it’s quite hard to tell if it is for the better or worse. Yet, being in the now is the only way to be with any peace.