I used to think age is a matter of the mind, and as long as we keep our thoughts fresh – what is the point of having a number to depict your age? But as days and years pass by, realized a clear definition of a middle-aged person…
When we are young, most of us live under the umbrella of protection of our parents and families. We are free to whatever we want, take the risks we feel comfortable with, and accept the outcome of these without any qualms. We skip eating when we feel like, we skip school or college to have fun with our friends, we bunk office to have a quiet day. Every act of ours has a repercussion, but not so severe. The next day morning, we dust ourselves up and continue with our routine. The speed at which we are able to move-on to the next step is pretty quick.
When most of us become parents (20s or 30s), we sort of figure out a way to manage our routine while being (good) parents. We try to do the best we can. We seek help from our parents or in-laws, uncles and aunts, extended families, create a support system to help us balance our workload better. We start getting better at identifying areas where we can reduce our efforts by getting extra help (like scheduling cleaners, lawn mowers, home help regularly) and take on additional responsibilities both on the work front and family and children’s school front – wanting to be the BEST in the areas we interface with life. Ensuring we help our parents settle down with us and taking care of them while they become our extended support system comes naturally.
When we are in the 40s and 50s, suddenly there is a shift in our perspectives. We have teenage children who come with their own challenges, our work (potentially we would have moved to managerial or leadership roles) come with their on interesting twists and turns, and a new area that we would not have ever focused on so far, which is taking care of our parents (remember – they were always our support system), now we need to take care of them. Perspectives change. Suddenly, we have become the-support-system for our parents, our children, our spouse, our in-laws and extended families. We would wonder about how and when did this shift happen? Realization dawns that it happened very gradually for many of us, and for some a drastic life event would have pushed us to re-think our priorities in life.
When we realize we are the support system for our generation, one above and one below, Yes… for sure – we are middle-aged. However young we may want to feel at heart, responsibilities from all these directions would need to be fulfilled by us. Accepting it gracefully, and letting go what we need to let go, makes it easier for us to transition through this phase.
We would slowly be making those choices our parents might have made when we were young – about their children, their parents and would be taking cues from the same, only wanting to do better than them. Neither did they have the ability to control our destiny, nor do we have the ability to control anyone else’s destiny. As long as we take care of ourselves and have some personal time for ourselves (be it while praying, meditation, driving to work, weekend gathering with friends etc etc – whatever works), we would have the time and energy to give our best to every relationship.
So, to all those going through middle-age, having topics you CANNOT discuss with ANYONE, dealing with issues from multiple facets of life, feeling you are at the brink of breaking down, with new challenges being thrown at you every single day, week and that it has been like this for months and years…. take a deep breath, and remember, just like all the previous times, have faith…. this too shall pass! Every single one of your colleagues and friends might be going through something challenging in their lives as well. You just do not know about it. Sometimes, talking to a stranger helps significantly, as you do not have an image to live up to with new friendships… You might feel the world resting on your shoulders, however – remember that things have a way of working out (even without you). So, do not forget to prioritize yourself in the process.
That dentist appointment for yourself, that pending eye-checkup, that back pain, that gassy feeling after eating a full meal, that gray hair…. put these on your priority list and get to it before it is too late! When we are fine, and we feel fine, we will be able to give the best to all our relationships.
And…. one fine day when you realize your grand children are thinking about you, well.. you may have sailed into the next phase of life… 🙂