My Mid-Life Crisis, during Which Hilarity Does Not Ensue.

November 8th, 2013

I’m having a mid-life crisis.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to buy a new car or do anything extravagant like that. Although, come to think of it, I did buy a new car but that was well over a year ago, and it was a Toyota Prius, which I don’t think counts as a mid-life crisis car because it’s the most practical car in the world. Oh, and I also recently bought some skin cream called “Youth Code” which I wasn’t crazy about, because it made my skin break out–although I guess that means it worked, because what screams “youth” more than acne?

But that’s pretty much where the exciting part of my mid-life crisis ends.  I’m not planning to get plastic surgery or go out one night and get drunk and smoke crack (and by the way, seriously? You can really use getting drunk as an excuse for smoking crack?) or seduce my teenage daughter’s boyfriend or do any of the fun and wonderful cliches known to my peer group.

No, I’m taking the sane and practical route: moaning and bitching about how disappointed I am in myself, my life, and my future prospects.

I am a joy to be around.

Pretty much sums it up.

Pretty much sums it up.

The four horsemen of my midlife crisis are pettiness, narcissism, ingratitude, and envy. I am filled with small minded envy of those who have achieved the kind of success I used to dream about and haven’t come close to knowing.

(Before you get annoyed at me for not being grateful for what I have, remember a) I listed ingratitude among my sins, and b)  that success, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder, that we either feel like successes internally or we don’t, and outward affirmation is almost irrelevant–although I feel fairly certain that I myself would feel much more successful if I were to, say, win a big writing prize or get on the NY Times bestseller list, and I’d be happy to test that theory any time someone wants to help me out with that.)

Mostly I feel crushed by the sense that all those dreams I dreamed when I was a girl or a teenager or even a young adult probably won’t come true, that options have narrowed and potential paths are a lot fewer than they once were.

I think this stage of life would be easier to deal with if I lived in a Dickens’ novel where your reward for being a decent human being is to get all plump and goodnatured and generous after a certain age. That sounds a lot more relaxing to me than still fighting to be a contender, but for some reason I can’t get anyone to agree with me on the whole going gentle into the good night thing.

So here I am, still striving for that golden ring as it recedes farther and farther from my less agile fingers, wondering where the years have gone and why I keep going around in circles instead of moving ahead.

Of course the answer might simply be that I’d be a much more successful YA author if I stopped writing about being middle aged and started writing about Selena Gomez.

I’m doomed.

  • writersmama says:

    As a woman who’s older, though not any wiser, I’ll leave with you with this: in Dickens day, we died soon after mid-life hit…Today, we tend to live a lot longer…so there’s that…:)
    Another ‘gem’-thanks Claire!

  • Charlie says:

    Hang in there, Claire. Consider the possibility that you are a mature soul bashing yourself for not being more of a young soul. Perhaps a change of frame would help.


  • Deb says:

    Dickensian justice is a beautiful pipe dream. You may not be a joy to be around, but you are a joy to read. I hear your written, “I’m doomed,” in Charlie Brown’s voice. 🙂

  • Doug Lane says:

    Thank you for the honesty of this dark meditation, Claire. It’s easy for me to understand you feeling disappointed in your, life despite your various creative and familial successes. I’m often assaulted by these late inning thoughts myself, as in “It’s too late in the game for me to turn this disaster around.” On the other hand, in time, the Earth will be a cinder and everything and everyone on it, geniuses and imbeciles, saints and monsters alike, will be less than a memory, will be entirely forgotten……literally lost in space and time. And who really cares what others think of us? What do they know or care? Who really cares what we think of ourselves? So all we have is this moment, and this next moment, and how we are handling them. Be grateful for the gifts of these moments, and see and hear and feel the joy and worth in them. And do so without ignoring the pain and disappointments of the past and present and possible future. Nobody said it was easy, but it’s your mission and mine, should we choose to accept it.

    • Claire says:

      All very true, Doug. Sometimes I see things exactly the way you describe them. And sometimes I lose that perspective and only see the small, petty side of things. Part of being human, I guess. Thanks for a wonderful comment.

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