A month or two ago, my wife wrote this studmax blogpost about “Mid Life Crises“. I read it when I was in draft. I read it again soon after it was published. And I read it again, and again, and again. And I’ve been showing it to a lot of people I meet.
Having seen this post, it has been impossible to unsee. I used to wonder why Hospi puts so many dance videos on Instagram, and then realised it must be mid-life crisis. I saw Josh go from being a VLSI Engineer to pushing limits, and have classified that as mid-life crisis as well. Recently, Ruddra posted topless gym photos. I actually commented that it “must be mid life crisis”.
A few days ago, my wife and I were talking about an acquaintance who is possibly having an affair, and that again we put down to “mid life crisis”. When asked why he had had a second child eight years after his first, a relative had said “early forties you hit mid life crisis. We had the option of a sports car or another kid. Decided to go for the latter”.
You see – once you’ve seen this concept, and if you belong to the broad 35-50 age group, it is absolutely impossible to un-see. You get excited about possibly meeting an old flame after ages, and mid-life crisis explains that. You want to get hammered when you meet your old friends, and mid-life crisis explains that as well.
Now, being 40 and having identified that I’m at “mid life”, the challenge is to deal with the crisis in the least destructive manner possible. That the crisis exists, and needs to be dealt with, is a fact. The choice is in terms of how to deal with it.
If you are married (or in a long term relationship), you don’t want to have an affair and put that in jeopardy (also the question needs to be asked if one’s demand for an affair can be met with supply). Alcohol and dope can be destructive to your physical and mental health. Social media gives you dopamine (and I think that was my main tool of dealing with mid-life crisis till recently), but can be both addictive and anxiety-causing. Gaming (I’ve considered buying a console for nearly 2 years now, but I’m yet to act on it) gives you the dopamine but again comes with addiction risk.
And that is where the “healthy obsessions come in”. You notice that many people around my age take to running, or cycling, or lifting, or a combination of these. All of these are physically strenuous activities, and thus can give you your endorphins. As an added bonus, they increase either your cardiovascular health or your muscle strength, thus preparing you better for old age.
So you find these to be fairly common midlife-dealing hobbies. If you can find one of these that you don’t get bored by, it’s a clear win-win (I lift weights). The “problem” is that because it is physically strenuous you can only do so much of it (I go to the gym for an hour each 2-3 times a week. If you do less strenuous stuff like running, you can perhaps do an hour 7 times a week). And so you need more. The question is what you can choose that is non-destructive (relatively speaking).
A month or two back, I got introduced to online quizzing. I’m currently playing three leagues (one of them will end soon, but I’ve signed up for yet another starting at the end of this month). I find that this is a fairly high-dopamine hobby (to the extent that now I’ve started doing this late in the night since it interferes with my sleep), and keeps me stimulated enough. The only issue is it can be potentially addictive (when I played my first “friendly” online quiz 2-3 weekends ago, I felt the same way as I did when I smoked my first cigarette – “this is addictive shit, I need to be careful”).
Interestingly, two friends I spoke to in the week of August 15th (and I’m pretty sure those two have never met or spoken to each other) told me “start working on another book to deal with your mid life crisis”. I admit they too have a point, but I don’t know what to write about.
But yes – midlife crisis is a real thing. It is only about how you choose to deal with it without causing self-harm.