Wikipedia describes the midlife crisis as a transition of identity and self-confidence that can occur in middle-aged individuals, typically 35 to 55 years old. The phenomenon is described as a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly lack of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of intense depression, remorse, and high levels of anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to their current lifestyle or feel the wish to change past decisions and events.
Do you also have this struggle? YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE because I experienced it myself. When I wrote this, I was 50 years old, right smack in the age range based on Wikipedia’s definition. Did I suffer this psychological crisis? Yes, I did but with the grace of God, I was able to manage it.
Here are some warning signs, based on my experience, if you are having a midlife crisis.
Fear of Death
Everyone is coming face-to-face with their own mortality especially in this time of pandemic. In just the last few months, I’ve received news of the deaths of former colleagues and friends. What hurts most is that we cannot even go to their wake or burial. When I go out, there is always the threat of catching the COVID virus.
These times are really hard for people who are going through a midlife crisis. Death has become so real these days. I think of death every day. Probably because of all the movies I’ve watched. It keeps my guard up but it causes us to be always stressed out. It also adds to our concerns about our jobs, our mental health, and our relationships.
We need to have the confidence that death is inevitable and that we should accept it and be ready when it comes. We should have our affairs and properties in order so that we will not have any regrets when death comes. More importantly, we should know where we are going to end up in terms of eternity when we die.
John 3:16 (NIV) says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This simply means, that if you believe that Jesus died for you and accepted His free gift of salvation that you will be with Him in heaven.
You need to be sure.
Doubting your self-worth.
After going through a downturn in my professional career, I began having doubts as to whether I was still a significant contributor to our company’s goals and vision. I was used to helping out everyone in the office. Many people came to me for answers to their creative challenges. People consulted me on important matters. I believed that I was important and that I was a productive member of the company. This feeling was an illusion. Everybody is expendable. All of a sudden, I was relegated to a remote corner of the office with many of the things that I was passionate about gone. Was I still worth something?
I held on to what the Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 ESV “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
You can doubt your self-worth but God does not doubt you because He knows His plans for you…and they are good! God is not finished with you yet. If God did not have a good plan for you, you’d probably be dead by now.
In a midlife crisis, you will go through a phase of evaluating your accomplishments or lack of it, how much you should be earning at your age, or your professional viability, and a host of other concerns. Do not doubt yourself. You can learn new skills, strive to be better at your current work, respect what you can learn from those lower in rank from you. Do yourself a favor and stop checking out other people on LinkedIn or Jobstreet to find out how you may be worth today and start believing in—and improving—yourself.
Conscious of your outward appearance
Is your hair thinning out or your waistline or your hips getting wider? Do you look at the wrinkles on your forehead in the mirror more than a few times every day? Let us be honest, you are getting old and there is only so much that you can do about it. Here’s a tip: Get over it!
What you should rather focus on is keeping yourself healthy and fit. With the proper amount of exercise and a healthy diet, not only will it extremely affect how you look on the outside, you will feel great about it too. If you pursue it, the exercise would tone your muscles and skin naturally. You won’t look artificially enhanced. It would also allow you to live longer and more productive in your senior years which you can use to serve God in the most productive way.
Now if you have a spouse who cannot get over it, encourage them that you love them no matter what they look or smell like. And it needs to be sincere. Your spouse will easily see right through it.
For additional reading on why your looks do not matter as much as your health, check out this article from the Compelling Truth website.
Decreasing Sex Drive
This happens to a lot of men in my age group but it also affects women. For the men, it gets harder (pun intended) to be stimulated with their partners. There is also the issue of sexual performance. For women, menopause compounds the problem and exacerbated by hormonal issues, i.e. lubrication, hot flushes, etc. This issue makes it harder to be intimate with their husbands.
All of this contributes to anxiety and depression because men think it’s a performance issue and for the women, it’s about being able to satisfy their husband. There is no one-stop solution to these issues. For many men, they turn to pornography to “augment” their weaknesses because they would rather hide their shortcomings than talk it out with others. Women can cope better because they tend to confide with their friends. The best way for everyone is to pray. There will be times when the challenges with our sexual drive can be disheartening. God said in 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 that our bodies are not our own for we were bought with a price and therefore must honor Him with our bodies.
A 1984 survey by Mark J. Yaffe, M.D. and Moira A. Stewart, M.D. on “The Concerns and Problems of Middle Age” said, “The midlife period challenges the individual to accept successes or failures, whether they are vocational or interpersonal. Vaillant’s studies indicate that this is a gradual process, and it may facilitate adopting the role of a mentor or solidifying family involvement.” To me, what these doctors are saying is that you have a choice in your crisis. You are in a midlife crisis because you choose to be there. Decide to take charge of your life and do it for your own benefit.