Enjoying extended adolescence a.k.a. the mid-life itch

I am surrounded at the moment by people going through the “itch”. Call it what you will – its like a quarter/mid-life crisis of sorts where suddenly you feel the huge urge to peel away your skin and emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon – transformed, better and ready to take on the world. All around me people are suddenly feeling that the life they are living is either not enough or is not what they had set out to achieve.

I remember a very long time ago reading a blog by some guy who had quit his job in the middle of the recession (gasp!) to take up his hobbies of teaching and writing (double gasp!!). The blog to a certain extent bugged me and I continued to go back to it to read the many comments by people intentionally taking the leap into unemployment or lower paying jobs.  It challenged me, and my notions of work and responsibility as an adult. Now, I must clarify I am all for people dropping jobs they don’t enjoy so they can pursue their passions but what you need to understand is that I am from a place and time where you worked hard so you could buy bigger, better things and be “a responsible adult”. I know that’s a bit simplistic but in a nutshell that is what it is. I think I am almost scared by the notion that people around me seem to be questioning that very premise. As my friend asked me the other day – why does she need to make more money? Why does she need to buy a house?  And that really is the question… do we need to acquire things – partners, property, houses to show we are growing up? If we are doing what we love, does it matter that we don’t have jobs which promote us or pay us more money? Why can’t we all just exist in that wonderful state between being dependent children and responsible adults?

In her article on WSJ recently, Kay S. Hymowitz asks a similar question – Where have all the good men gone? Granted this is the cry of all my single female friends, but it seems to me it’s not only the men who have discovered this new-found freedom which has left them being labelled as living an extended adolescence. All around me people are asking why must we fit into a mould of adulthood – working by 21, married by 30, divorced by 35 (!), retired at +60. As my friend put it, why does she need to make more money – and yet so many people do not ask that question and just jump into the rat race of acquiring because they are now “adults”.

For my part, I guess I am boring in that the predictability of adulthood gives me a certain comfort. Does this mean there is a chance I may slip into a midlife crisis later on in life – I hope not.I would hate to be one of those old people you see in the club wearing inappropriate floral shirts/gold jewellery/excessive make up and trying to be hip as they live through their mid-life crisis.In an ideal world, we would all be doing jobs we loved which paid us the money we felt we deserved or required but for now, it’s each to his own. So the next time someone tells me they are quitting their job to find the meaning of life/sit and bum on the couch/pursue their hobby, I am going to try to let loose a little and join them on the journey…hey, I may be in for a surprise, I may just enjoy the ride.

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