How Women Experience a Midlife Crisis (it’s different than men!)
Most of us think of a midlife crisis as the old guy ditching his wife for someone half his age while zipping around town in his shiny new convertible.
Men get to own the midlife crisis experience. Women are never included in this conversation because, apparently, it’s assumed we don’t lose our shit when we approach 40.
Gender doesn’t play into whether it happens or not. It happens to everyone because we all get older and it’s simply a part of that journey.
With that said, a woman’s midlife crisis is not the same as a man’s midlife crisis. For women, knowing and understanding what it’s like for us will allow you to embrace this transition period and get the most out of it.
The Anatomy of a Midlife Crisis
Yes, we all know the term and the stereotype, but let’s start with what exactly is a midlife crisis.
If you google ‘midlife crisis’ the definition that pops up is : " an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age".
A midlife crisis is typically triggered by a major life event or approaching a new decade(i.e. turning 40). You become aware of how fast time flies and suddenly you realize how quickly the years ahead will go. We all have dreams and things we want to do in our lives and we typically put them off to ‘someday’.
When a midlife crisis hits, you realize the ‘somedays’ are going to run out.
Women who are high achievers and career oriented are generally hit with this harder than others. For these women, they start their careers after college with big dreams and they work their asses off to climb the ladder to achieve those dreams.
By the time they hit their 30s, they’ve started to hit some of those targets and feel some of that success. But, it’s generally around this time when they start to hit obstacles.
It could be having children and being out of work for maternity leave, bosses that don’t see their potential and mismanage them, or sexism in the office. They start to get frustrated and bored.
As 40 approaches, they realize they need more in their lives than just their jobs. They need fulfillment and purpose outside the corporate walls.
For women, this is what triggers the beginning of a midlife crisis.
In the research that I’ve done on this topic, most agree that for women, it’s not really a ‘crisis’. It’s really more of a quest to learn who we are and what we truly want.
I personally, like to refer to this transition period as a Midlife Awakening because once we emerge from this period; we have awakened to a new and improved version of ourselves.
A Woman’s Midlife Crisis
If you’re not sure if you’re experiencing a midlife crisis, or didn’t even know that was a possibility, let’s talk about what women typically experience during this phase.
What a Woman Feels in a Midlife Crisis
When I ask midlife women what they’re feeling at this point in their life, they usually say they’re tired. They’re working all the time, taking care of family (kids, aging parents, partner), taking care of their home, and countless other responsibilities. They’re tired and overwhelmed.
They feel like they can’t catch up and their life is out of balance.
Their needs are last on the list and they’re not even sure who they are anymore.
They feel alone, misunderstood, unseen, unheard, unappreciated, bored, frustrated, and empty.
They’re scared that life is never going to be more than this.
Then, they feel guilty. Guilty because they love their family, but they want a break. Guilty because they’re blessed with a beautiful home and life, but they feel it’s not enough. Guilty because they’re not as happy as they feel they’re supposed to be.
What a Woman is Looking for at Midlife
I recently asked every woman I know that is at least 35 years old what she’s craving most in her life right now. Not surprisingly, most of the responses fell into these broad categories:
- More adventure
- More purpose
- More connection
As women, we tend to do what we’re supposed to do and we do that very well. We’re taught to put our needs last and nurture others. There’s nothing wrong with that, but pushed to the extreme and women are burning themselves out and not taking care of themselves.
By the time we hit our late 30s and slide into our 40s we crave more from our lives. We’ve climbed the corporate ladder, created a family, and by all measures, succeeded at life.
But, it hasn’t always been according to what we truly desire. We’ve gone along with everything that was expected of us.
Now, in our midlife years with the reality of how fast time passes, we suddenly realize we need more.
We want to have meaning outside of our jobs and families. We want to have something that is ours.
We’re on a quest to find ourselves and awaken to who we truly are so we can step into that life and feel fulfillment and bone deep joy.
Getting to the Other Side
The midlife awakening can take some time. It depends on the woman, but it’s transitional journey and at a minimum, it’s probably one that lasts a couple of years.
What’s on the other side of a midlife crisis or awakening? To be honest, I can’t speak from experience because I’m still in the thick of mine (and loving it!). But, I can already see a brighter future ahead.
From talking with older women that have successfully navigated these waters (and from feeling some of this already), what’s on the other side of the crisis/awakening is confidence, inner peace, and a fierce love for life.
It’s loving yourself in a way that wasn’t possible before, knowing yourself on a deeper level, and following your own truth.
The decisions you will make will come from a place of deep trust and confidence. They’ll be based on your core values and the knowledge that you, your desires, your dreams…they matter.
But, as you’re making your way through all the questions, doubts, and fears, how do you get the most from this period?
If you want to come out for the better, be open to it and don’t judge yourself.
Above all else...BE CURIOUS.
Explore new places, try new things.
Remember for women, this time in their lives is about finding who they are and figuring out their purpose. You’re not who you were at 25, so try new things to see what you might like now.
Along the way, you will learn so much about yourself and may even stumble upon why you’re here.
How I can Help
Personally, I think the 40s are THE best decade! If you’re not here yet…don’t dread them. You’re in for a treat!
If you’re feeling some of what I described, reach out to me. Even if it’s just to chat, I’m here for you.
If you want to work together, let’s do it!
But please...don’t sit back and watch your life go by. Hop on board and take your life for a spin!
If you’re in you’re 30s and you’re not feeling any of this yet…that’s okay. Start prepping now by getting to know yourself and setting your boundaries, so you can transition into your midlife with infinite grace and ease!