The Upside of a Midlife Crisis

…A summertime trifle in which I confess some pretty huge social transgressions for which I do not feel the least bit guilty.

It is a truth universally acknowledged….that the Midlife Crisis is a thing to be avoided. At all costs. In other words, it’s not a Good Thing. In fact, in The Big Book Of Bad Things, it’s safe to say that the Midlife Crisis is a regular top 10 occupant. I mean, we all know people who have gone through it, and so we know the signs: “Oh, Gary bought a Porsche Boxster last Thursday after getting fired???? …yeesh 🙄…ok, I’ll give him a call and check in…” or “OMG did you see Kerri’s outfit at the barbecue? Is she kidding me? I think I counted at least four different cheetah prints from glasses to shoes!” Sometimes there are really fun signs, depending upon our friends’ budgets or the way in which they decide to manifest all their issues – “Wait, where did those boobs come from? Has she always had boobs? Have I just not noticed her boobs before? Wowww…..” 

Alas! These are frequently people we love! Sometimes we’re related to them, or live next door to them, or work with them every day. Regardless, these odd behaviors and sometimes reckless decisions that we observe seemingly out of nowhere can be deeply concerning. That said, I am here to share with you, my friends and loved ones, that I have recently learned something pretty interesting: I was wrong. I’ve been wrong about this all along. Totally off base. While it’s not ok to make decisions and do things that hurt other people, possibly destroy others’ lives, barring that??? I say, do as you please. Get those boobs! Buy that car! Wear those ridiculous jeans that cost more than my horn. Good for you. You’re lookin’ fine. 

Confession #1: I have always judged people I have seen go through this process. Always, and without exception. And I have judged them harshly. I now regret this.

Confession #2: I am 900% deep in the weeds of a midlife crisis myself, and am doing many things on the regular that I would roll my eyes at or be categorically horrified to see if I were observing me, instead of actually being me. It’s interesting…being on the other side. 

Confession #3: I absolutely do not care. In fact, I feel great about it. It’s awesome. I’m a huge fan of my own midlife crisis and all the insane decisions that have come with it. There are two big reasons:

Reason #1: The magic of YES vs. the magic of NO.

I’m a freelance musician. Some might say I’ve done pretty well over the years. I feel fulfilled and experienced and capable and confident in my abilities, and this is largely because I’ve been in the habit of jumping —literally jumping at every opportunity that came my way for more than three decades. If there is ONE THING that I’ve always practiced and preached, it’s the power of YES. Yes = possibility. Yes = money. Yes = growth. Yes = new experiences. Yes = good. 

After 47 years of saying yes to everything and everyone, I now see that there is a downside. A price to be paid. I don’t regret my experiences. I have grown and most certainly benefited from them, but over time I have changed. Having reached this inflection point, I am happy to say, that I have recently learned the value of saying NO. I’ve been saying it a lot these days. At first it felt so weird. But now? Some months in? Feels good. Feels REAL good! No, sir, I am NOT interested in driving 3,000 miles to play your pet’s birthday celebration for $75 with a brass trio! Thanks for the offer, but NO, I will not eat that mystery meat casserole that I’m pretty sure was made a week ago last Thursday! Hooray! I’m free! No! No! No! NO. 

Don’t get me wrong – there are downsides to these changes that come with getting older, and I’m not loving them. I’m not so deeply in denial, swimming in my dystopian delusional fairyland that I am blind to the pitfalls of aging. My eyesight suddenly sucks. I am now inexplicably an insomniac. My clothes no longer fit. Also, this next manifestation of awesomeness best explained as “Oh, hey – can you please drive to another area code to eat your Doritos, or at least chew with your mouth closed? The way you are breathing is incredibly annoying. Great, thanks.” So, yes – I might be a *wee bit* more irritable than usual. All that said, I feel a lot more myself than I’ve ever felt because I’m no longer trying to be something or someone or somewhere in order to suit others’ needs. Or get a gig. Or receive a compliment. Or make someone comfortable regardless of the discomfort that it will cause me. It’s embarrassing, really, how long I did so much for the wrong reasons. For everyone else. I look back at dozens upon dozens of moments, decisions, scenarios, and I cannot believe it. 

Those challenges aside, the freedom is worth it. It’s amazing, really. I’m so much more comfortable in my own skin. Despite these 20 lbs (Ok, 35) that appeared without warning and certainly without invitation. Despite having to wear glasses all the time. Despite getting 6 hours of sleep (if I’m lucky) instead of 8. Despite the nervous tick and pulsating eyeball that I have because of my sudden sensitivity to caffeine. Isn’t that one of life’s big ol’lessons? Not the eyeball part, but the big picture part. Get past yourself so that you can be in the moment, be with your friends and family, and to help others. Be BETTER for others because YOU are happier. Yes. I think it is. 

Reason #2 that my midlife crisis is pretty great, is my version of Gary’s Porsche Boxster (pictured below). I’m obsessed. Who knew that a $1600 scooter could bring so much joy? I certainly didn’t but I sure do now. This scooter is the physical evidence of my “crisis,” which is hilarious, as it doesn’t exceed 40 mph — and on these hills in the Berkshires? More like 15 mph!  My crisis moves in slow motion, practically. And I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m that lady, now –not Kerri in the cheetah prints, but just me riding a polka-dotted scooter at 18 mph uphill wearing a perma-grin. Carpe diem, my friends!!! 

Beep Beep!