Monday, March 15, 2021

Having a gentle mid-life crisis

I am at this middle age where I see others doing better than me.

Their careers are progressing well, getting more recognition and pay. Then there are others who are making more money and are deemed more successful than I am. Their kids are smarter than mine. Their cars are flashier, their watches have more diamonds than there are numbers.

If I keep on thinking along these lines, I'm quite sure I'll get a mid-life crisis. But here's the thing - that's the cue for me to take a step back and re-evaluate my life so far. The young should and must take over the old, otherwise, society becomes stagnated and takes a backstep and everyone suffers. It's a natural progression for the next generation to step up and eventually take over the previous one. But am I ready for this change? Cognitively, this is rational and logical, but I'm more than just rationality. 

I think I have it easier because I don't have colleagues. I work alone and that shields me from a lot of pressure from comparing with others. There's no water cooler gossip about whose kids did better in national exams, no rumours about who got a bigger bonus. My blog saved me too. It allows me to network with many people from different slices of society - some older than I am, some younger. This gives me perspective and also comfort. I think it's good to know friends younger than me so that I can guide them along with life's milestones and share my experiences. Mentor them and guide them so that we can also share their successes vicariously. Friends who are older than me provide me with the reassurance that things will turn out fine, and will help me when I face one of life's obstacles. If I am with my peers only, I'll have a much narrower perspective of life and that can only be bad.

I think it's important to see beyond the material world and find meaning. I mean, I'm middle-aged and have reached the halfway mark of my life, and what have we got to show? People at this age will start to think back and see if they still want to continue wasting the second half of their life doing something that they dislike. If not, the sudden realisation that time is not on their side might force them to do a career switch, become deeply religious or spend more time with their family and loved ones. These are observations that I've made.

For me, I don't have a full-blown mid-life crisis. It's just a gentle realization that the stream of my life is no longer in the white water region, all fast and furious, aggressive and relentless. The time for that has passed and my life-stream is now gently meandering around river banks. It is calm and peaceful. And that's how I hope to see my middle age defined as.

Live long and prosper.


Gohawaypapa said...

Yeah. Our healths are also a good indicator. Taking longer time to heal from wounds. Decline in running pace is faster if u stop just for a while.

But agree that if u don't have colleagues, it shields u from unnecessary comparison.

la papillion said...

Hi gapp,

Yes, that's what I've been told too. I guess the disadvantages is a smaller circle of friends. I'm not sure if you can group colleagues together with friends though. But I've my own circle formed from online interactions. I guess that sort of balances this out too. Besides, I'm happy with a book in bed as an introvert haha

{ in·deed·a·bly } said...

That is a great perspective, very self aware.

Finding the happy and enjoying the journey are clichés for a reason.

Anonymous said...

There will be no end when we start comparing ourselves with others, because there will be always be others who are better than us. It is better to compare ourselves to our ownself 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Have we become a better person now?

Downside Adverse Investor said...

Envy is the most unenjoyable sins of investing so dump it away and focus on your own life is the way to go.

gagmewithaspoon said...

Having kids makes it difficult. I dunno if we need to keep up with the Jones in order to give our kids a headstart in life. On the other hand, why do we want to train our kids to keep thinking that the pie is limited, scarcity is everywhere, and life is about eating other's lunch? Its sad way to look at things. Is this comparison? or is this for our kids' future. sorry, am rambling today. Just had a few playdates for my kids and invariably, its about what enrichment classes, or what extra classes.

The Rhino said...

I decided to go for the full blown mid-life crisis.

I'm like a modern day Chernobyl

I think there going to send in some Russians to tidy up the highly toxic remaining fragments

There is a part of me that is fascinated to see how I will turn out after all this

Patrick T. said...

Actually mid-life crisis manifests in different ways in different people. Some buy a new car, some get a new spouse, others chase after dreams that they abandoned in their teens and yet others suddenly reach out to those they had cut off years ago.

This recent student psychology learnt that it is the 7th of 8 stages of psychosocial development theorised by a famous psychologist named Erik Erikson. The main activities at this stage are named Generativity vs Stagnation and can be read up here...

I guess it's not difficult to see that one would try to do more of the Generativity stuff rather than Stagnation.

la papillion said...

Hi { in·deed·a·bly },

Thanks for dropping by :)

la papillion said...

Hi anonymous,

It's not something I think about generally but recently have been having signs of envy. I'm also not sure. It's my general default to compare with myself.

la papillion said...

Hi Downside adverse investor,

Yup, agree. I guess a little envy is good as it propels you and pushes you to greater heights. The problem is with excessive envy it becomes jealousy. Esp when you can't do anything about it (or don't want to do anything about it) - will eat you up.

la papillion said...


Ya, I hate those events. It's eventually about one-upping each other and sees who have bigger balls, bigger toys, bigger what have you lah. I try not to join in.

la papillion said...

Hi Rhino,

Haha, nice attitude towards this :) However, because of this attitude, I doubt you'll ever get a full-blown mid-life crisis! It only happens to people who don't want it.

la papillion said...

Hi Pat ge,

I read the link - wow, it's all inside man. My post is just a slice of whatever is in the link. Thanks for sharing :)

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