How to Avoid a Midlife Crisis

A consistently brilliant reader Musteryou uses the example of whiny woman-haters to explain how one can avoid a mid-life crisis:

I have a theory that one only really experiences a midlife crisis if one has not been living authentically. For instance, if you have been living according to an ideology that has promised obeying its rules will ultimately bear fruit, you might suddenly feel let down in mid-life when this doesn’t happen. That’s it not the fault of feminism, though, which (as Farrell’s quote also points out) allows women to actually make an authentic identity for themselves. The unmaking of men comes about because they have bought into all sorts of nonsense in the first place. “Stop allowing your life to be determined from the outside and instead develop an inner life of your own,” should be the advice given to whining males. Above all, stop trying to steal feminism’s inner light. If it’s not your own light, you’re just going to make everything so much worse for yourselves. Growing up means learning how to establish an identity on one’s own terms. Oprah cannot do it for you. Smashing feminism can’t do it for you. Sometimes it takes baby steps.

I have the same theory of a mid-life crisis. If you take care to figure out what it is YOU want your life to be like, you will experience no need for a crisis once middle age approaches. A mid-life crisis is a problem of those who dedicated their lives to living according to the pattern suggested to them by others. A consciously constructed existence that answers only to an internal mandate will not enter into a crisis.

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16 comments on “How to Avoid a Midlife Crisis

  1. Thank you for this. I must say that as I approach official ‘mid-age’ this year and look back upon the past, I certainly have much to be proud of in the kind of person I’ve become. I was severely unhappy in my twenties, not believing that the outward expression of myself was the real me. That’s actually why I went so deeply into a certain line within Continental philosophy, melding it with African intuitive understandings of ontology — and came out on top!

    I can’t believe I completed the project before the deadline — before middle age.

    I can now age very, very happily indeed, knowing that I am fully in control of the process. Weirdly, enough in my recent videos, I see some completely Portuguese lines, which totally makes me laugh. I look like I’m developing very aristocratic, self-determined characteristics. (I’m only one eighth Portuguese, but these genes seem very dominant.)

    Mike is the same. He recently turned 68 and seems like a sensual child. He just does as he pleases.

    A lot of the men’s rights rants consist of threats that men will no longer cater to the needs or demands of women and will go their own way and “then women will really be sorry…they will come crying back to us, begging us to take on our old roles” (paraphrased).

    I think the movement needs to give up on that assumption, because history doesn’t reverse. Women are not going to beg for the old roles. The only way is forward.

    The capacity to move forward creatively is highly redemptive, though. The studies of Bataille and Nietzsche I have made, along with the example of Marechera to a certain extent, provide extremely useful models.

    The MRAs, though, want to return to the old standards of the patriarchal religions, where a man had authority simply by being a man — i.e. not a woman.

    They ought to be able to see why this pattern doesn’t work for many women, but it’s very hard to see the bigger picture whilst one is insistent on licking one’s own wounds.

    • “Thank you for this. I must say that as I approach official ‘mid-age’ this year and look back upon the past, I certainly have much to be proud of in the kind of person I’ve become. I was severely unhappy in my twenties, not believing that the outward expression of myself was the real me. ”

      – I have a very similar trajectory and I’m happy that I stopped to consider what was driving me to live the life I hadn’t chosen.

      “Mike is the same. He recently turned 68 and seems like a sensual child. He just does as he pleases.”

      – I think this is precisely what awaits everybody who lives consciously instead of letting oneself be swept away by the tide like an object.

      “A lot of the men’s rights rants consist of threats that men will no longer cater to the needs or demands of women and will go their own way and “then women will really be sorry…they will come crying back to us, begging us to take on our old roles” (paraphrased).”

      – Yeah, this crap even finds its way into the pages of the NYTimes in its completely idiotic scary stories about the horrors of what happens to women who didn’t dedicated their twenties to getting married and procreating like crazy bunnies. The really hilarious part is that these idiots have been waiting for women to repent of feminist advances for decades. When will they realize that this fantasy will never come true?

      “They ought to be able to see why this pattern doesn’t work for many women, but it’s very hard to see the bigger picture whilst one is insistent on licking one’s own wounds.”

      – This is one of the differences between a baby and an adult person. A baby only knows the immediate while an adult is capable of seeing a larger picture. These MRAs are a classic example of an irredeemably infantile person.

      • They’re not only infantile, but victims of self-deception, because they want to pull you in and get you to sympathize, claiming that it’s all about equality, equitability, and allowing others to have a fair say. But, really it is about you having to take it whilst they emit their tantrums.

        It’s the same thing with the Rebecca Watson “elevatorgate” scenario. It’s about males getting their feelings hurt, but it seems impossible for these guys to just accept that “okay, it was hurtful for her to rebuff a stranger’s advances, but let’s get over it already.” They can’t let it go. Feelings were hurt. So, then they have to start their weird projections and make out that women can’t handle the big, wide world, because their feelings might be hurt. I’ve had these little males yell at me that I should “stop acting like a female stereotype” and just accept that a troll is an anonymous stranger who means you no harm. That was simply for visiting a site about “elevatorgate” and making a very general, non-offensive comment there.

        So, I’m supposed to accept the pile on by all the trolls telling me, in one way or another, that I’m a female stereotype, and treat this indifferently, as if they were just simple observations from “anonymous strangers”?

        I tell you, men will make you pay a very hefty price for getting their feelings hurt.

  2. Well, I had that therapist who believed that if you were successful and had not had a crisis and dropped everything, you must necessarily be living inauthentically.

  3. I think there’s a stage that almost everyone goes through when they realize they are absolutely past the halfway point in their lives.
    It is a _very_ sobering thought and can turn ambivilence about choices made (a normal part of human thought) into regret and already existing regret into unhappiness and panic. And it’s all the worse for a person not accustomed to thinking about such things.

    I’ve managed to live pretty much how I’d like to (minus a few vacation homes in strategic locations) and I’ve mostly gotten through it with a few wistful ‘what if?’s about paths not taken. For a person who suddenly realized their life is really a lot different from what they want(ed) the spectre of mortality will be a lot more traumatic.

    I wonder if the stages of mid-life crises are the same as the stages of grief? If I were more interested I’d probably look it up.

  4. Dont forget that part of any “midlife crisis” is the fact that our bodies go through hormonal changes. This is true for both sexes.

    • We all know how I feel about the “hormonal excuse. ” I believe in consciously elaborating one’s life strategy and not in blaming everything on mysterious chemical processes.

      Everybody has hormonal changes, yet some people fall apart while others don’t.

  5. Clarissa

    As an Autistic I would have thought you would understand how our physiology can affect us. Obviously some hormonal changes for some individuals are greater than others. I guess the one’s who “fall apart” should just suck it up and not let it bother them. I think I will use that with some of the my Autistic clients when dealing with their “mysterious chemical processses”.

    • “As an Autistic I would have thought you would understand how our physiology can affect us.”

      – I do not believe in the physiological nature of autism.

      ” Obviously some hormonal changes for some individuals are greater than others.”

      – That’s precisely what I said. The effects are the greatest with those individuals who never engage in any psychological hygiene. The lack of psychological hygiene hits people hard during such complicated moments in life as pregnancy, the time immediately after giving birth, middle age, etc.

      “I guess the one’s who “fall apart” should just suck it up and not let it bother them.”

      – To the contrary. They need to seek psychological help. If they just suck it up, as you suggest, they will face serious somatic issues later on.

  6. At core, I agree with you. I think that crises generally happen when someone has regrets. However, I have to agree with Cliff above. I’m still fairly young (slightly under 40); still, when I think about it, I know that there is a possibility that I have lived over half my life. And that makes me sad. Not because I have regrets. But because I love life and I love having a body that does what I want it to do. I get even sadder when I think of losing the people that I love. So I think midlife crises can be a bit more profound than merely “having regrets.”

    • Of course, what you feel is completely normal. But I was talking about crises more in the sense of people engaging in self-destructive behaviors as a response to them. I had a friend who wanted to kill himself when he turned 30 because he believed his life was over. He didn’t kill himself but he became an alcoholic. :-(

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