For a very long time, the subject of the midlife crisis was associated with men. This is probably because, in the past, the most significant identity shift women undergo was only to go from motherhood to solitude. However, the iconic participation of women in the workforce greatly changed the world’s view of what women can do and achieve. Unfortunately, because of this change, they now face the pressure of bread-winning, career excellence, and motherhood almost simultaneously. It is no surprise that women may face a more challenging dilemma during their adult years.
Midlife and crisis as relates to the midlife transformation in women also begins during their 40’s and could last until they are 60 years old. But for women, this crisis is usually a search for affirming the role they have to play in the family or in society. This is why some psychologists suggest that midlife crisis in women should not be called as such, as it could best be termed as “midlife quest for identity”. No matter how it’s called, this time is undoubtedly both emotionally and physically exhausting for women.
What are the Symptoms of a Female Midlife Crisis
Although both men and women may experience a midlife “transformational” crisis, there are subtle differences in how they react to it. While most men are more concerned with their loss of vitality and vivaciousness, women are more focused on determining their real purpose in life. Here are some symptoms of women who are may be suffering from this transition phase of life coined as “midlife crisis”.
Slowly questioning your life’s course.
It starts when women begin to realise whether the lives they are leading are on the right track. During this personal evaluation, some may realize that they were just forced to follow their parent’s choice for them and not their own. Some may think that they are only living up to what society dictates as good and acceptable. These thoughts often give rise to the realization that they need to follow their own ambitions and desires instead of having others to set their path. The crisis occurs when women view their present lives incompatible to what they intend them to be.
They feel like something is lost or missing.
It is a terrible feeling to know that you have forgotten about something but can’t quite figure out what that something is. The same feeling surfaces in women who constantly feel that they have lost something. They feel that an essential piece of their life is missing, but they just can’t put a finger on it. This could be a loss of a goal, a loss of a desire and ambition or the loss of their ideal version of themselves. Most women would also think that their best years are past them and they will never be able to go back to them.
Women who devoted their lives to being a mother would also feel a great loss when their kids reach the point where they have to leave the nest and live off alone. Their calling of being a mother is no longer needed, and they don’t know what to do next. This according to some physiologists can be deemed as an “Empty Nest Syndrome”
On the other hand, many career-minded women who wanted to scale the corporate ladder work so hard to try and reach the top. However, the truth about gender inequality in the workplace is devastating, and many women would lay down the figurative sword and give up the climb. This unfair treatment and mismanagement, coupled with the failure to reach their dream for career advancement, would be enough to break someone apart. Thoughts like these could easily lead to depression and feelings of regrets and disappointments.
They become less interested in many things.
Women during this midlife transition tend to see things differently. They show up to their jobs bored, passionless and inexplicably tired. They lack the motivation to spend any effort in the workplace and would only just do enough to survive the day. The bigger problem is that most of these women no longer see life positively. They would stop dreaming and aiming for other goals like when they were younger.
Furthermore, women in midlife tend to become more sensitive about people’s fault and constantly feels angry and irritated. They’d go home to their husbands but sometimes would deny any physical intimacy. Luckily, there’s a medical explanation for this lack of enthusiasm. A study shows that women ages forty and above manifest a decline in estrogen levels that are associated with menopause causing a female to be less active in any amorous activities. This phenomenon could also contribute to a woman’s lack of sleep which could lead to insomnia.
Life is not just about chasing happiness; it is also choosing to be happy.
They take an extreme approach to your appearance.
Women take two different approaches to their appearance when hit with a midlife crisis. The first approach is to become excessively obsessed with looking younger. While it is perfectly reasonable to try and look your best, looking for hours and hours at the mirror is something else. Attempting to hide the marks of ageing, many women would decide to spend an unreasonable amount of money for some beauty products, plastic surgeries and other beauty treatments that would allow them to look “perfect”. Some women would dress provocatively just to recapture the feeling of being young and admired.
The second approach is the complete opposite as some women would choose to become totally oblivious about their appearance. While others are occupied at looking younger, they would easily just throw it all away. This goes back to the previous point where they just don’t care anymore, not even for themselves. You can flush their beauty products down the toilet, and they wouldn’t care. You can give away their dress, and it would totally be fine. They may have accepted the fact that they are getting older, but they do it with an old lady’s eyes. A study suggests that people who are feeling and thinking older contribute significantly to a lower mental state and satisfaction compared to those who take a more positive outlook towards ageing.
They start to decide impulsively.
After all their thinking and self-evaluation, most women would fall to the conclusion that some things need to be changed immediately in their lives. An example of this would be a woman who feels dissatisfied with her relationship with her husband and decides to start an affair with another man. This is also true to a woman who felt bored and unfulfilled with her job and decides to quit spontaneously without thinking of its consequences. Some women, whose children have grown, become available to try and do everything she put on the back-burner while she was a mother. These decisions, no matter how small or big, would affect not only them but also those they are close to.
Take some time in making a decision, or your decision will take your time.
Tips on How to Deal with a Female Midlife “Transformation” Crisis
A midlife transformation is usually terrifying. But just like every problem, it also provides an opportunity for us to grow. Here are a few suggestions on how to come out of a midlife crisis stronger.
- Accept the fact that you are no longer the person you used to be, but remember that you still have the chance to do better.
- Keep an optimistic view of what’s to come and enjoy every new opportunity in life.
- Place your priorities at the top of the list and never compromise them for anything else.
- Do not make any rushed decisions based on temporary emotions or you might end up sacrificing what you needed to protect in the first place.
- Be surrounded by the warmth of other people’s support. There are always those who are willing to stay by your side no matter how hard it gets. Find them and never let them go.