I have been feeling quite unsettled recently. I say recently because there is a good chance I have been feeling this way for years now, it’s just that having children, emigrating to the other side of the world and being a working mum can really distract you from anything that is going on below the surface.
Of course I can’t say for sure, but I would like to think I am somewhere close (maybe a little further to go) to the middle of my life. Therefore I am middle aged. This is something that I have been pondering for a few months now as I get closer and closer to my 40th birthday. What can I say, I don’t like getting old.
I consider my peers, those that I know and those that I just observe at a distance, say on the Graham Norton couch or in a blog or a Facebook feed. All grappling with their middle-aged status. There seems to be a scale on how we all deal with it. At one end we have those that arrive and find peace and a new found confidence in their age. They are thankful for their youth and the story they have lived so far. It has given them wisdom and grace. They know what they value, what skills they have and they are going to use their super powers for good.
Then right at the other end you have people who seem to have got lost, forgotten what is important to them and all that they have achieved in their earlier years and out of fear for their older future they try to escape from their current life back to what they had. It’s not at all graceful, it’s messy, desperate and extremely sad to watch as they hurt everyone around them in their futile and selfish pursuit of finding themselves in what they used to be.
I can’t be my 24 year old self anymore because that person didn’t know about mortgages (to be fair they are still a mystery but I do have one). My 24 year old self hadn’t yet lived with the 38 year old version of the boy she fell in love with, she didn’t know what it feels like to wait 14 long days to do a pregnancy test after two embryos have been inserted by a lady doctor, she didn’t know that she could breast feed a baby daughter through the night whilst feeling as close to wasted as anaemia can make a person, or know that running 8k three times a week is more important for your heart and soul than an elusive flat tummy. All these pearls I found out in the last 15 years and they made me a different person.
I can’t even be my 38 year old self because there are so many things that happen in each year of my life that change me and unless I get amnesia or a really good personal trainer, I can’t even go back a year.
The realisation that there is no going back and your younger life is now over happens to all of us who are privileged enough to get this far. And a mid-life crisis also seems to happen to the privileged ones too. How an individual deals with it is fascinating. I mean there are cliches; the guy who buys a fast car, the lady who gets friendly with the pool boy. But for most of us, it’s not that obvious or clear cut.
I was born somewhere around Generation X and Y. I’ve not researched into them much but when I read the traits of both I see lots of things I empathise with. I think Gareth and I are certainly like Generation Y, in wanting to have jobs that have a greater purpose, beyond just making money. And that would certainly be evident in our salaries over the last twenty years! When we moved to Christchurch we were inspired by the roles we could play in the rebuild of this post-earthquake city. For the first three years we worked our butts off in our respective jobs to give as much as we can for the good of the city and the people that we live amongst.
Now we talk endlessly about what is our purpose for the future? Why are we here? What do we want to do with our lives? Where should we be? What is best for our family? How can we make a difference? We’re really struggling to answer those questions as it’s not as clear as it has been in the past. And perhaps because I am older and a mother of two children, I want more than just a gut feeling before I throw my all into something new.
It says in the Bible, ‘the purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out’.
This resonates with me so much at the moment. I feel like my purpose is buried at the bottom of the sea and I don’t know how to draw it out. Can I even be the one with the insight or do you need special qualifications?
I know there is a purpose in me still. It is a treasure I want to find, I’m determined to find it. Maybe it’s actually staring me in the face, maybe I see it but don’t recognise it. Maybe it’s going to float by me randomly one day or maybe there is someone, somewhere in the world that has found it and is writing it on a piece of paper and sending it in a bottle to me right now? Maybe I’m all run out of these “deep water” scenarios…
This is a crisis. It’s not a despairing crisis. It’s ‘I know I am going to get through this and there will be something awesome for me if I can just go through this the right way’ crisis.
I know I’m not alone, I see people all around me going through their own crisis. I also know tons of people who have worked theirs out and they’re doing amazing things. These are the people I want to spend time with – they are my heroes right now.
Is anyone else in need of a really long fishing line???
*I’ve numbered this blog because I think the deep waters are going to take a while to wade through and I reckon I’ll blog along the way…