About a year ago I saw an article on Facebook titled, “The New Midlife Crisis: Why (and How) It’s Hitting Gen X Women.” The article, published on Oprah.com, is all about how 40-something women are basically losing their minds.
I rarely have patience for long-form writing — i.e. any article longer than 1,500 words. Who has that kind of attention span these days? But I read this article from beginning to end, more than once, and I can’t stop thinking about it even now. The article sums up the feelings I’ve been having for the past couple of years — a potent combination of anxiety, fear, gratitude, guilt, euphoria, frustration, despondency…and white-hot rage.
Generation X is the generation born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s, sandwiched between the larger Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. Our parents were hippies and had fewer kids than their parents did. We were the children of divorce, the first latch-key kids. And the female half of Generation X was the first generation expected to “have it all” — a family, a high-powered career, and all the joys and struggles that go along with those two things.
Apparently Generation X women are also the first women to have documented mid-life crises. In the past, the mid-life crisis was the domain of the middle-aged husband — his wife simply had to grin and bear it, suffering in silence. But not my generation. We’re loud and proud about our mid-life struggles, suffering openly, all over social media.
I could go on reflecting at length about the Oprah.com article. But I don’t write long-form think pieces and if you want to you can read it yourself. And anyway, the article provides no answers. There’s no solution to the 40-something female mid-life crisis, or even any solid hope it will someday go away. But it’s comforting to know I’m not alone.
So I thought I’d briefly share some of my own thoughts and feelings in this post. If you’re a 40-something woman — or even a 30-something woman or a 50-something woman, or any woman, or possibly even a man — you might relate.
Allow me to rant and rage a bit, for myself and for the common good.
40-Something Rants and Rages
- I have no right whatsoever to complain about anything whatsoever. I was born into a middle class American family. I’ve never been hungry. I received a great education. I’ve never been forced to flee my home or endure abuse. I live in a spacious house, with a comfortable life, in a country plagued by inequality. I am ridiculously fortunate and privileged. And yet here I am, feeling acute and persistent angst.
- I’ve had so many choices — choices that women who came before me didn’t have. I chose my career. I chose (sometimes badly) the men I dated and married and divorced. I chose — sort of accidentally but a choice nonetheless — not to have children. I chose to abruptly abandon my stable life at a pivotal moment and move across the world. I’ve experienced so much joy and heartache as a result of my choices, and wouldn’t change any of them. But my strange life choices have left me so fucking confused. I have no blueprint to follow.
- “You have such an amazing life!” people often say when they read my posts. And they’re right, I really do. But truth be told, I’m insanely anxious about money (I don’t know how to make it), relationships (I don’t know how to stay in them), my tenuous residence in South Africa, and one billion other things. (Yes, my residence in this country is tenuous and I’m very upset about it. But that is a story for another blog post.)
- I’m 44 years old and alone. I mean, I have great friends and pets and my own good company. But I’ve had a good handful of serious relationships in my life and all those relationships have ended, many of them due at least in part to my own unorthodox life choices.
- Being alone is great in many ways. As a woman I’m grateful for the opportunity to live an independent life of my choosing. But…what now? Menopause is lurking around the corner and I feel more and more like a crazy cat lady.
- My own woes aside, may I just say that I — like so many other women — am fucking angry about the state of the world. And no offense, Men, but I feel like a lot of the problems are kind of your fault. So please shape up, World (and Men). The Gen X women are peri-menopausal and we just might open up a can of whoop-ass on you.
This post is dedicated to Meruschka, a bad-ass Generation X woman who left this world way too soon.