Are You Going Through an Age-Crisis?
Did you know that when written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters 危机 that one represents danger and the other represents opportunity?
This could help us look at our age-crisis in a totally different way. First, what is the meaning of the word “age-crisis”? It is questioning where we are going, what our goals are and whether we have made the right decisions or have taken the right paths that would fulfill our happiness and potential. Why am I calling it “age-crisis” and not “mid-life crisis”? This is because the restless craving to realize our potential might happen at many ages, and usually peaks as we approach each decade of our lives. However, the questions shift as our life-stages progress:
- At around age 30, the questions would focus on career and family choices. The desire is to ensure long-term happiness. We question whether our career and familial choices would make us happy in the future. We might struggle between our desires and social, peer and family pressures. We might find that between where we are and where we want to be there is a space that requires “lots and lots of work”. This could make us end up with a big career or life change to ensure we are not shifting from our own personal potentials and desires.
- At around age 40, the questions would focus on life purpose. At this age, we are more concerned about what life is all about. We desire to ensure the significance and value of our efforts. We also want to ensure that our daily work and routine positively relate to our bigger dream and purpose in life. These questionings might help us pay more attention to our physical and psychological wellbeing and make changes in our daily activities as well as our attitudes towards daily events, trying to achieve a more peaceful and enjoyable life. At this age many women start thinking: “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it, I want to have lived the width of it as well” (Diane Ackerman).
- Around age 50 and up, we start questioning our contribution to other generations and the community in general. We start to seek richer ways to apply our skills and talents and to give back to the community. The sense of fulfillment here comes from general rather than personal achievements.
Of course, not every woman passes through these phases. These are just tendencies. However, most women are driven by the desire to have motion, emotions and meaning in their lives rather than titles and fortunes. It is strongly advisable that, when a woman is faced with the restlessness of these questionings, to use it as an opportunity for self-exploration and development instead of letting it be disruptive or de-motivating. Any age-crisis would start with finding out what she really does not like to do in her life. Then, she would start unfolding the drama about what is stopping her from doing what she likes. Then, she would start pointing fingers and blaming herself, others or life circumstances. Finally, she would start finding solutions in order for her to grow out of this uncomfortable situation and develop.
As life progresses, our needs are shifting. We would feel uncomfortable until we know how to feed these new needs. At that moment, we would know what it means to feel a sense of contentment and fulfillment. It is a great feeling that is worth the confusion, the restlessness and the change. At these moments of puzzlement, just remember “Life always waits for some crisis to occur before revealing itself at its most brilliant” (Paulo Coelho).
Rasha is a Psychology professor at the American University in Cairo. She holds a degree of Masters of Art in Counseling Psychology, International Counseling and Community Psychology (ICCP) program at the American University in Cairo (AUC). Rasha provides psychotherapy at Your Path clinic, where she integrates the Humanistic Existential approach with the Cognitive-Behavioral approach in therapy. This integration helps clients become more aware of their life’s targets, and their own behaviors and attitudes that help or hinder the process of reaching those targets. It also helps them identify their own emotions and thoughts, which is the first step towards feeling better. Rasha works with teenagers and adults in individual, couple or family settings according to the client’s situation and needs in order to provide the appropriate therapy service that would initiate the required change. She also provides consultancy to parents who need parental guidance.