Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Third Life Crisis

The discussion has come up recently if 33/34 is too early for a mid-life crisis.  You know, the phase defined by a restless feeling that leads to big leaps, rash decisions and random purchases.  This period typically begins once all of your kids are grown and gone and you aren't sure what to do with yourself.  While I definitely hope that 33 is not mid-life, I do think this age comes with a bit of that same restlessness.  John Mayer sang about a quarter-life crisis, so I'm here to introduce another overly analyzed, self-depricating phase - the Third Life Crisis.

My husband and I were talking last night about how this is a unique time in our lives because the next step is not clear and there really are no expectations.  As a child, you go to school and graduate high school.  Next comes college and then you're supposed to graduate and get a job.  Then you move out, buy a car, save to buy a house, meet the love of your life, get married and have kids.  Of course, this is not the exact road everyone takes, nor should it be.  But it is what society has led us to think is the best path, or at least the most safe and predictable.  In our own way, we have checked all of these boxes and we now find ourselves in an interesting place.  We are done having kids, Andrew has a job that he loves, I am keeping busy with the kids and work...but what's next?  What's the next box to check?

There are two ways to look at this stage of life.  The first outlook is a bit more negative and unfortunately how I've been feeling recently.  It can be overwhelming, scary and unsettling to think about an open-ended life.  Are we stuck in a rut?  Do we need to shake things up a bit?  But how?  And what if it's risky?  The what if's take over at that point.  I recently started following a family on Instagram that call themselves the Bucket List Family.  If you have never heard of them, I highly recommend you look them up.  They sold all of their possessions a couple of years ago and have been traveling the world with their two very young children.  While I'm pretty sure that's not the exact route we should take next, I do wonder how they made that decision.  People have crazy ideas like that all of the time, so what gave them the courage to just go for it?

The other outlook on this stage is how I'm choosing to start approaching it.  We are past the box-checking stages... how great is that?!  While we will now look forward to milestones reached by our children, our family can choose whatever path we want.  Now we haven't won the lottery, so obviously the sky isn't completely the limit, but we have the power to decide how to lead our lives.  The phrase "no risk, no reward" comes to mind.  For us, this probably does not mean taking up gambling, sky diving or swimming with sharks (maybe the last one someday), but it's okay to take chances, even if they are small.  We are one third down, with two thirds to go, God willing - we aren't in a crisis, we are at a crossroads.  And we can start checking whatever boxes we choose.  

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