Is it just me or does it seem like more and more people in their 40s and 50s just don’t know what they want to when they grow up? Technically by that age, most of us assume we should have it figured out. Including me. I believe this is what my parent’s generation would call a midlife crisis. The mere thought of myself in “midlife” makes me want to run out a buy a bright yellow sports car.
According to Wikipedia a midlife crisis is a “term first coined by Canadian psychologist Elliott Jaques referring to a critical phase in human development during the forties to early sixties, based on the character of change points, or periods of transition. The period is said to vary among individuals and between men and women. Despite popular perception of this phenomenon, empirical research has failed to show that the midlife crisis is a universal experience, or even a real condition at all.”
I beg to differ Dr. Jacques. In 2014 the Huffington Post did a story about the midlife crisis which included an all to relatable photo gallery of the signs and photos of what the “crisis” looks like. Gulp. I’ve checked more than a few off that list over the past couple of years. Don’t even ask which ones.
I think back to when I was a little girl and someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I would always have more than one answer. When you’re 9 years old the possibilities are endless. One day it was a ballerina, teacher, or a fashion designer. The next time someone asked it was a doctor, police woman, or Princess Leia. And often my Halloween costumes would reflect what I thought I wanted to be. Yet, somehow none of my 9 year old dreams manifested and I became a publicist and event planner. Not exactly careers that could easily translate into a Halloween costume. It’s hard to imagine a little girl dressed up for Halloween dressed in all black with a clip board, walkie talkie and a Blackberry attached to her ear. Plus, who knew what a publicist was in the 70s and 80s?!
So, what happened to those endless 9 year old possibilities? Life happened, I guess. I become more realistic, less creative and optimistic. But now in my 40s, I’ve felt it’s time to bring back more of that youthful creativity and optimism. Say what you will about the millennials, but they organically live a multi-hyphenated life, I’m sure inspired by many of their childhood fantasies. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a 20 something that is a vegan baker-dj-blogger-yoga teacher.
Perhaps, they have modern technology to credit for their belief in being able to pursue all of those passions. Therefore, instead of calling it a midlife crisis, I’m going to take a page from the millennials and call it – What The Hell Do I Want To Be When I Grow Up or #WTHDIWTBWIGU. Asking the question “what” gives me more of an opportunity to reinvent whatever and whoever I want to be – even at 45.
I mean couldn’t I still be a ballerina? If Misty Copeland at age 33 can be the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre, then why can’t I be the first 45 year old? Okay, maybe that is a little delusional, but I do feel like the possibilities are endless. In my quest to find my purpose and create more meaning in my life, I’ve had to embrace the uncertainty of it all and find joy in taking more risks to see where they may or may not lead. That includes auditioning for a cooking show, styling a webisode, taking leadership courses, and pitching my passion projects. Who knows where any of this will lead, but the wheels are in motion. Maybe it is too late to be a professional ballerina, but it’s not too late to be one for Halloween.
We’d love to hear from you about #WTHDIWTBWIGU.