Mid-life crisis? I'd rather have mid-life adventures.
Updated: Apr 30
Without going into details, the last few years for me have been the worst of my life. Not been easy for anyone, what with Brexit, the pandemic, economy problems...but I've had to face situations I never thought possible and been at my very lowest point.
Taken a while to get out of that slump, and I'm guessing many people can relate. The latest dilemma has been realising that I'm a woman in my 40's, with young adults now instead of kids. That's not been an easy adjustment. For many years I was a stay at home mum, alongside running a business with my husband. I'm very aware how fortunate I am to have had so much time with my kids, and to be perfectly honest, that is the only life role where I felt truly content. Sure, there were ups and downs, but at the risk of sounding extremely old fashioned, being "mum" was all that really mattered to me. However, that time of life did come at a cost. For so long, I now can see that I put everyone else first, trying my best to make sure everyone else was happy, and letting my own dreams and ambitions fade.
Panic and overwhelm at discovering I don't really know who I am anymore or how my future will look has forced me to re-assess. I regret not putting more effort into friendships that got lost along the way; busy making sure the kids social lives were fulfilled, or refusing invitations as husband was away travelling, and feeling too awkward to go alone.
Basically I need to find myself again, as much as I hate that expression! Much soul searching has led me to some stark realisations:
So....what am I going to do about it? That is yet to be discovered and as I write this I already feel apprehensive at starting my experiment (it is however kind of exciting). Before I find out how my Second Act will progress, I'm going to savour this strange intermission, like a welcomed glass of wine at the theatre interval.
I need to start putting myself first, something that really doesn't come naturally to me. Maybe that's the same for you? Stepping back from the business was my first challenge. Still part of the fantastic team and willing the business to continue to be a success, but no longer putting so much time and effort in. This has freed up some time and let me get back to writing, which I really love to do. I wrote a novel called Behind the Curtain a few years ago and have struggled to follow this up, despite fantastic motivation and feedback from Strathkelvin Writers Group!
Baby steps are my way of starting this unknown path. Recently I arranged a re-union with four other writers I met a year ago at a writers retreat. Sounds simple enough, right? Not when you're an introvert like me pretty good at picturing worst case scenarios. Visions of myself as a Norma no mates in the glamourous Orangery restaurant at Seamill Hydro played on my mind as the day approached. Luckily everyone showed, and it was a fantastic day. In fact, not only did we boost each other's determination to get back into writing, but we also supported one another through the various challenges we had faced in life since we last met. Being amongst other supportive women helped me voice my new writing idea that had been floating round my head, and I was pleased that it seemed a popular one...which leads me to the real purpose of this blog.
The way I see it I need to re-frame this part of life. Instead of suffering a mid-life crisis and being sad that the cute kids are now taller than me and eating me out of house and home, I need to view it as an opportunity for mid-life adventures. Take chances and challenge myself to do things out of my comfort zone. My social activities no longer have to be child friendly, and I need to be confident enough to start saying yes to things that I normally would say no to. That even means if I do those things alone. Running a small business is no easy task, especially in the current economic climate, so I also hope to boost local businesses throughout my project. This, I have decided, will be my therapy; my way of discovering who 2023/2024 Carolyn is, and I hope many of you will follow my progress! In fact, more than that...I want you to get involved.
Here goes....for the next year I am challenging myself to do one unusual/challenging activity each month and I welcome your suggestions (within reason!) Shoutout some local businesses who need support and I'll take a look. May is already booked, not giving anything away yet, but I will blog and post about the experience. When I told my mum what's planned for that day she went completely silent, think she suspects my mid-life crisis is in full flow. One year from now I aim to have enough material to write a book about all of it, what these experiences have taught me, and the person I've become. Maybe you'll have been a part of that journey and see your name/business in print!
As someone who normally likes to plan, seeing where this idea will take me feels odd, but strangely freeing. Maybe I'll inspire others of a certain age to join in and I'll find my tribe of mid-life adventurers? Maybe I'll make a whole bunch of fantastic new friends? Maybe no one will care....or maybe they will, and I can finally shut up my negative inner voice. Maybe by doing this I can help someone else struggling with mental health? All I know for sure is that once this blog goes live, I'm sticking with it and I'd love some support. Share my blog, follow my progress on Insta and Twitter and join the conversations. I can't wait for my adventures to begin.
My first business shoutout is World of Wings, Cumbernauld. As mentioned, fear of empty nest syndrome has been on my mind a lot lately, and inspiration struck to distract myself by going to World of Wings (only a parent could enjoy the silly connection my brain made there; maybe my son's right that mum jokes are worse than dad jokes). Anyway, slightly worried that visiting this local place with many good memories of family days out would feel weird and sad on my own, I was pleasantly surprised. The staff are all fantastic and knowledgeable about the many varieties of birds, and there was something very reassuring about the flying shows where the birds were free to fly high in the sky, but always returned to their handlers. I enjoyed the fresh air, impressive speeds and hunting skills of falcons and smiled to myself at how pre-conceptions can be so wrong. Who knew that vultures are not really like the evil cartoon villains they are portrayed to be...or that the great American bald Eagle can take great pleasure in a simple bird bath. Yet again I was reminded that every single living being is an individual, capable of following the crowd, or just being themselves. Trying my best with Instagram reels so go take a look at my day there and support this fantastic local business not far from Glasgow.