Middle Age? Blerg!
So…let’s talk about the elephant in the room. The slightly more grey, a bit more wrinkled with “laugh lines”, reading-glasses-wearing elephant — Midlife. It’s a term that doesn’t exactly inspire excitement to those of us in it. In fact, it’s got a pretty bad rap: “mid-life crisis” is a term to describe someone who is behaving oddly or seems to be looking for happiness in extravagant ways. (OK, it’s usually used for men who buy sports cars, and date embarrassingly younger women…). But women get accused of this as well, and worse.
What I propose to do is reclaim middle age!
I want to invite women who are in their 40’s and 50’s and moving into this time of midlife to have an alternative to the dread we feel when we realize we’re middle-aged. In fact, I want women to get excited and look forward to the second half of their lives.
Desperately Seeking Role Models
Here’s the problem, though: we don’t really have any good role models or language to encourage the anticipation of what’s to come. Our mothers didn’t have the same experiences we did growing up. They didn’t enter midlife in this era of #me-too, non-binary folks, or seeing women in their 50’s & 60’s on the big screen as successful, desirable or confident. They grew up in the 1940-1960’s when things were just different.
So, once again, we have to be our own role models, or seek out women who will be our guides. We need to create our village of badass grannies and aunties who make us look ahead and say, “Hell yeah, I’m super into THAT kind of midlife!”
Our Turn for Us, But … for What?
Another challenge that women have around mid 40’s is that we are usually finally settled into our lives. We’ve spent a number of years establishing our careers, marriage, kids, homes, routines, and finances. And by the time we’re staring down the barrel at 50, we have some room to breathe, and think, and feel. And holy hell, that last one-the feeling part-that’s when the shit can hit the fan. For the first time (sometimes), we are feeling fully into ourselves, and for ourselves. And many times, that feeling ain’t so comfortable.
It’s SO not comfortable that we sometimes don’t even have the words for this feeling. But here are some ways I’ve heard it described: something’s missing, empty, passionless, I don’t even know what I want, on paper my life looks amazing…why do I feel so lost? And there can be guilt associated with “complaining” or “whining” or “being ungrateful” when really, we’ve won the human being lottery.
I am going to be creating a series of blog posts that delves into the messiness around this midlife thing. This first one is to let you know, that if you’ve ever felt this “BLERG” feeling about your life, and you don’t know why, and you can’t quite figure out why you’re a bit blue and uninspired, I want to assure you that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. In upcoming posts I will untangle some of these issues:
- Guilt about claiming your own well being
- How to come to terms with this “blerg” feeling, and what do do next
- Ways to recognize what it is you’re searching for
- Connecting to a virtual village of rad elder women
- Moving forward with a spring in your step
- Looking even farther ahead to the “third third” of your life
If this is striking some familiar chords with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.
Be well, badasses.
Sam Salenger is a Certified Professional Coach who works with women to Reclaim Middle Age and Find Their Awesome. Before becoming a coach, Sam was an art and classroom teacher, museum curator and exhibit designer, and an artist. Sam lives in Portland with her 2 kids and 2 cats. She enjoys nature, books, family and friends. Find her on her website: Sam Salenger Coaching.