I believe that the so-called midlife crisis may be a myth. Midlife crisis symptoms in the popular literature - subjective signs of change - consist of a long list of feelings, behaviours and physical signs associated with this condition:
Feelings can include: • being bored • fixating on your mortality • having a sense of being trapped • questioning your achievements and usefulness and • being in a rut.
Behaviors that may be present include: • loss of sex drive • tiredness • irritability • depression • sadness and mood swings • sexual adventures and • bouts of excessive drinking.
Physical signs may be: • weight gain or loss of appetite • hair loss • long recovery period from injuries • body stiffness • sudden obsession with your physical appearance, and • excessive consumption.
If you're feeling these midlife crisis symptoms, you may have many different reactions. You can be overwhelmed by fear. You might have panic attacks. You might want to escape by hitting the bottle. You might just want to crawl into a cave and hide from everyone.
Rather than dwell on midlife symptoms, I'd like to focus on using creativity as a way of taking midlife changes in stride.
How creativity can help
I've always been fascinated by the subject of creativity. As a college teacher, I'm constantly looking for new, different ways of engaging students in the day's subject matter. I find that trying to be creative brings a whole different energy to the teaching and learning experience. Once, in a lesson I tried something completely off the wall and the experiment flopped miserably. When I admitted to the students I was unhappy with the experiment, I was so surprised when several students raised their hand to thank me for the effort. They said that many of the teachers they've had never try new things. So they were really appreciative.
I'm always impressed about the achievements of people – both men and women who may or may not have had midlife crisis symptoms - in midlife and beyond, such as: • Ben Franklin inventing bifocal spectacles at 78 • Madeleine Albright becoming the first American woman to be Secretary of State at age 60 • Pablo Casals playing the cello until he was 90 • Susan B. Anthony, a famous social reformer, staying active till her mid-80s.
Five steps for developing your creativity
I'd like to share with you five suggestions for developing creativity from the work of Kathleen Brehony:
1. Keep a daily journal as practiced by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way.
2. Try to keep two questions in the forefront of your mind: “What did I most love to do when I was about ten years old or so” and “What would I do with my time if I won a lottery and was financially set for the rest of my life?”
3. Listen to your inner voice and fight off negative thoughts such as, this is a stupid idea, I can’t do this, or I don’t have time for this.
4. Associate with people who will support your creative process.