The life expectancy for a female in the United States is 80.8 years. I'm creeping up on 42 and based on those statistics, I'm past the halfway mark (there is some serious longevity in my family, so I'm crossing my fingers for an able-bodied and clear-minded extra few years). Shouldn't it be time for my mid-life crisis? Don't I deserve a fire engine red sports car instead of a metallic gray minivan? Or is the whole car thing a cliche reserved for men only?
I'm pleased to report that I've found my forties to be splendid thus far; no crisis in sight. For the first time in my life, I feel I've had the time and the inclination to figure out what I like and what I want to do. I've discovered new hobbies, interests and (perhaps) talents I didn't even know I had. All of which, I freely admit, would have been unlikely without the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom with school-age children. As someone who did well in school and was (once) driven to succeed, this is not what I would have predicted for my forties, but I highly recommend it.
I envy those people who discovered their passion at a young age and pursued it. Either I'm not a passionate person or my passion remains elusive, because I can't say I yet have any idea what it might be. I am, however, learning what I enjoy: books, gardening, DIY home projects, the occasional craft, photography, writing this blog. Heck, I've even found exercise that I enjoy and that seems to be working (see this post). It's really all too good to be true.
Until recently, I never paused long enough to stop and smell the roses, much less explore and consider the roses. I went to college. I went to graduate school. I worked a good job that required very long hours. I looked up briefly in 2002, when I made what would be a fleeting career change. Then I had a couple kids and worked really hard at that. I still do. But now, they go away for several hours each day, leaving me time to explore and consider myself and the world around me. I'm not necessarily doing what is expected of me; I'm coming up with a few of my own ideas. Therein lies the novelty for me.
I don't mean to suggest I have it all figured out. If our financial circumstances were to change, requiring me to go back to work, I'm honestly not sure what I'd do. I wouldn't be corporate lawyer, and other than waitress, that is the only job for which I have useful experience. I hope I would be able to turn one of these newfound interests into a job I would enjoy, but I doubt if that job would pay the bills. No, from a career perspective, I am hopelessly lost. Fortunately, that is not a bridge I need to cross at this point.
Until I need or choose to cross that bridge, I will continue to learn more about me and more about the things that make me happy. In the words of Timbuk3, I have found that in my forties, things are going great, and they're only getting better.
Am I alone in my anti-crisis? Anyone else think we underrated growing up and growing older when we were younger? Or are you concerned about my lack of focus? Have any alternate career ideas for me? Weigh in.