I can’t tell if I’m having a midlife crisis. I am not acting out, but I find myself needlessly confessing my age at the start of conversations; my name is A.J. and I am forty one years old. I don’t know if it’s a nervous tic, or a means to extract qualified praise for my appearance, but I present my age as if I expect to be challenged on the point and persuaded otherwise. I think about the fact that I’m forty one more than I think about sex, and when I think about sex I think about the fact that I am forty one.
There is this constant background feeling that I am ten minutes late for a performance review at a job that I didn’t apply for and know none of the details of, but have somehow held for years. It’s not that I mind getting fired from the pretend job that I don’t have, but I wish that I knew what is was that I had failed at. I wasn’t great at being young but there should have been a warning.
I realize that age is just a concept but so is everything else, and it seems strange to pretend that it’s the one that doesn’t matter. Some of this, I’m sure, is because it is dark and cold and my cat knocked the vitamin D under the fridge, but I wonder if coping is a matter of concession or denial? Do I accept that I am old? Do I pretend that it doesn’t matter? Or is there some third option available to proper grownups that currently eludes me?
“There is this constant background feeling that I am ten minutes late for a performance review at a job that I didn’t apply for and know none of the details of, but have somehow held for years. It’s not that I mind getting fired from the pretend job that I don’t have, but I wish that I knew what is was that I had failed at. I wasn’t great at being young but there should have been a warning.”
I feel this deeply. I also feel, if the gentlest push came to featherweight shove I could make a loooooooong list of the things I believe I have failed at… It would include that I was ABOMINABLE at being young… I still remember when the kid was but days old and I held him, just 30, and realized that everything BEFORE him was supposed to have been about me and how mercilessly I had f–ked that up, lol…
For whatever it may be worth, I have also had a few experiences, plus more connections with Boomer retirees than I expected to have, plus a rabid and thereby routinely unhealthy empathic connection to my now octogenarian mother, that have led me to believe that age is probably not just a concept… There are real things that change as we age – different for everyone but also a bit the same I think? And I have, to my own surprise, caught myself thinking with quiet confidence about someone 20 years my junior’s passionate assertion of one kind or another, that I will be interested to see how they feel about that same idea in another 20 years… Because I have changed. And some of it is definitely the experience of simply being on the planet, in this body, longer… I dunno… Like “having sex for the first time”… Maybe you just don’t KNOW what it’s like to live in a 40 year-old body or a 60 year-old body, or an 80 year-old body until you do???
LikeLiked by 1 person
A.J. Valliant said:
I suspect creativity and youth lend each other impetus and volatility. I was more creatively productive when I was younger, but the end product was generally artful self-sabotage and relationship chaos. The old man version of me has the same tendency to seek out disarray, but lacks the manic energy to follow through on erratic impulses, good and bad. In its place a greater capacity for discipline, but writing has fallen a bit by wayside for a variety of reasons.
The downside of self-awareness, and lessened need for external validation, is that the desire to announce my existence, and shout my position on random thoughts in clever ways, is somewhat muted.