When I think about the future and things I have to look forward to, I was genuinely excited about the day I could officially be dubbed as in the midst of a mid-life crisis. As the weeks, months and years ticked by, I could feel the days of my existential crisis beginning to dawn. I was envisioning regularly reading the obituaries, sustaining 48-hour periods on solely vitamin-based diets and booking myself in for a beautiful hair implant, reminiscent of Jason Donovan in late 80’s episodes of Neighbours. I would say adios to friends and family as I hit the open road and reclaimed that sense of youthful freedom.
But, as I excitedly waited for the panic buying of leather jackets, sports cars and Glastonbury tickets to commence, I was left simply waiting, and wondering, what had happened? This was our moment to band together and discuss the pointlessness of everything. We were supposed to take up ridiculous hobbies, immerse ourselves in the intricacies of local craft gin and muse on whether it is time to start training for a triathlon. I for one, have been severely let down by none of this occurring.
So, why had none of this happened? I think it’s because the typical midlife crisis has been fast-forwarded and now can be evidenced in the behaviours of those finishing education. The gap year changed things. Technology has changed things. Life’s archetypal map has been completely thrown out of the window. Plans are being made earlier, dreams are being realised, questioning life’s purpose is now a daily occurrence. The historical process of emerging from a ‘midlife crisis’ is now happening years before the typical expectancy, because we are beginning to plot our journeys and understand what we do and don’t want much, much earlier.
And so, I’ve come to the conclusion that my generation’s lack of typical midlife crisis has caused a backlash. We expected a challenge, but we’ve already been through it as we were part of the generation whose world changed overnight with the advent of the internet – Hotmail addresses, SMS messages and Snake. But, the problem is, we haven’t had the chance to deal with this rapid change. We’re continually stuck in this vortex where we are reminiscing about the good old days, whilst trying to pretend we can cope with the exponential speed of day to day change.
Here’s the thing, over the last couple of years, in various places throughout the world and being specific, I am talking about the UK and the US (yep, Brexit and Trump) we have seen events which have shocked, stunned and shaken the world. Causing unexpected ramifications and unknown outcomes, which has left the globe in a pretty much perpetual state of fear and worry, it has left us in this aforementioned state of backlash. This fearful world we are living in has brewed a lingering uncertainty which is clouding everything. And this uncertainty has replaced the ‘traditional’ midlife crisis. There is a whole generation or even a couple of generations who have already been through a premature midlife crisis in their twenties and now cannot cope with the second round of instability in the world we are living in.
We are despairing and confused, but rather than this resulting in the road trip, the speedboat, the facial hair or the re-invention of oneself, we are looking outward. We are blaming our lack of understanding and focus on the state of the world itself, just as we did with the dawn of the internet. In a fit of frustration, we want to shake things up, we want change, we want to be appreciated and valued so let’s raise our heads above the parapet so that we get noticed, with an action that will shake core values and fundamentals and rejoice in the anarchy this causes as maybe we can find purpose out of it.
I have to be honest, personally, I am not joining in with this new style of midlife crisis, and no it is not because I’m eyeing up Glastonbury 2019, it is because I’m hoping that some good can come of these fundamental decisions, and while they may have happened in panic and despair, I think there is no reason for us to continue in this vein. So, I hope we can address these decisions not as reactionary measures to the mass ‘second’ midlife crisis we are all going through but as a fundamental shift which needs to be carefully examined. I live in hope that as individuals and as society we step back and examine the state of the world and have a proper think about what we are creating. Not only for the good of humanity, but so I can get back to donning that leather jacket, mounting that bike and riding Highway 54 to find the true meaning of it all.
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