Midlife is Not For the Faint of Heart

It is hard to admit but, yes, I have reached the midpoint in my life.  In fact, unless I plan to live to be 100 years or more, I am on the downward slope.  There are good points and bad points to being at this stage in my life.  The good points include being able to use age as an excuse for my sometimes faulty memory and almost being eligible for free coffee at McDonalds.  The not-so-good points include that faulty memory I mentioned before, and the realization that I’m not the same person I was 20 years ago.  I know that my body has changed, with more things going south than I really would like, but so has who I am as a person.  Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?  Definitely a good thing but I wasn’t so sure of that a few years ago.

We have all heard of the infamous “midlife crisis”.  Normally, the term is used to humorously describe someone who has reached middle age and is trying desperately to recapture their youth.  Red sports cars, plastic surgery and leather pants come to mind.  But there is a not-so-humorous side to a “midlife crisis” as well.  It is when you reach your 40’s and 50’s and realize that you haven’t achieved all the things you had set as goals when you were younger.  Or you are someone who has devoted the last 18 years of your life to your marriage and raising your children, only to find that, when said children leave home, you aren’t quite sure who you are anymore.  You may find yourself asking yourself questions like: “Who am I?”, “What is really important to me?” and “What do I do now?”  And this can be scary.  All of a sudden, you start questioning all of the things that you have taken for granted in your life up to now – your career, marriage and other relationships, the future – and realize that they have changed; you have changed…and your life isn’t on a rock solid foundation any longer. This happened to me about three years ago and it was honestly one of the scariest times in my life.  It was like standing at the end of a plank that stretched out into the Grand Canyon.  Behind me was my old self-my old life – and I knew that that wasn’t my life any longer.  Ahead of me, across the abyss, was the “new” me – who I was to become – and it felt as though the gap was too far to jump.    Scary hardly describes the fear I felt.  Terror is probably more accurate!

So what did I do?  I figured that I had two choices:  I could try to go back to the apparent safety of the rim behind me and try to become the person I was again, or I could take a great leap of faith and keep building onto that plank so that I could reach the great unknown on the other side.  I decided on the second choice, and worked with a coach to find out the things I needed to find out about who this new “Cathy” was so that I could build a new life.  But I can understand why people try to go back.  It feels safer to deal with the known than with the unknown.  But after awhile we realize that we can’t hold back time, and we can’t stay in the same place – we have to move forward.  And that takes faith, and trust, and courage.  My dad used to say “Growning old is not for the faint of heart” and he was right.  To keep growing when we hate and resist change is hard, but it is worthwhile.  Who is to say the new “You” and the new life that is waiting for you aren’t better than the old?  You will never know unless you take the steps to find out.  The results may surprise you!  They did me!

Are you on the end of that plank stretching over the Grand Canyon, caught between what was and what could be?  If you are, ask yourself what fears are holding you back from taking that leap of faith to reach the other side?  Becoming aware of what those fears are is the first step toward doing what you need to do to overcome them and to move forward.  Tap into your support group for help to build onto that plank.  Working with a coach is a great way to make the journey faster and more enjoyable.  Take it from one who has been there…it is always easier with a friend along.