Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.Paulo Coelho
I, a 44-year-old British woman now living in LA, can attest to Coelho’s words. It wasn’t until the middle of my life that I looked back over the last couple of years to realise that what I had thought was my home no longer fit. I had outgrown that period in my life. My center of gravity had shifted under my feet without my knowing. I point out my age, as this transformational shift that I’ve had is often felt in others at this midpoint in life. Commonly referred to as: the “midlife crisis”.
Let’s remove the word “midlife” for now.
“Crisis – a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.”
“Transformation – a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.”
To me, these words are one. They are something positive to look upon knowing the growth they can produce.
Combined I see them as:
“A period, long or short, of questioning, a time for calmness and serenity to find peace.”
So instead of labelling this point in my life as a crisis, I prefer to interchange it with transformation. My midlife transformation.
As a young girl, I remember that a midlife crisis had extreme negative connotations. It was often painted as when a man buys a Ferrari and leaves his wife to run off with a younger model, but that is simply one tiny, stereotypical version.
I am happy to say that for many, myself included, a midlife transformation embodies much more than buying something new. It is a rediscovery of oneself.
It also doesn’t need to happen just at our midlife point. However I think this is a time when we all recognise we are actually halfway through our time on this planet, therefore naturally reassess and acknowledge our higher purpose now more than ever.
For me, this realisation happened last month when, after 6 years living in LA, I travelled back to the UK – my home. It was a huge shock to realise that all this time what I thought was my center of gravity, the place I grew up, was no longer right for me. It didn’t fit me anymore after all my challenges and growth over the years. I felt scared, sad, strange, cross, liberated, confused, and scared again. My thoughts were in free fall. What I had felt was such a root force in my life no longer felt as strong of a pull once I returned. What did this mean?
I didn’t quite know what to think while back in the UK on my visit. Don’t get me wrong, I had the best time over those 4 weeks. I absolutely loved seeing my friends and family, but my soul didn’t fit. It wasn’t until I returned to the US and went straight onto set to direct a TV episode that everything clicked. I realised that that was my new center of gravity. Being a storyteller, directing on set, immersing myself in the creative. My soul felt home.
It was this culminating moment, looking back on experiences over the last couple of years, that led me to realise I have been having a midlife transformation, I just didn’t know it! Something deeper than just a change in what I liked or disliked. Something that was soul level. It didn’t just happen one morning. I didn’t wake with a sudden epiphany. It wasn’t a physical transformation. It was a mental and spiritual one over time. Challenges, big and microscopic, happened over the years, building, and reforming my soul. It wasn’t until a friend and I had a conversation about questioning life at our age that I realised what was happening.
Now I know, it’s hard to acknowledge your center of gravity is no longer where you believed it to be. It’s scary and confusing. However, it’s incredibly liberating once you find and accept your new center and all that that encompasses. When you acknowledge your growth and transformation, you accept that you are in the right place doing the right thing.
If anyone else is like me and at the midpoint in your life, I encourage you to take the time to positively question several things and not be afraid to question them. Who do you want to spend time with? What do you want to do or be? Where do you want to go?
This is a solid time to reassess what and who we are.
The little things that mattered when we were in our 20s and 30s seem to have dissipated. Our material possessions, careers and family life are all at a place we’ve been building towards, so now what? It’s a time to congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come on all our achievements thus far. A time to work out how it’s just as important to know what we do like as much as what we don’t like. Establish your current center of gravity to then be able to say, ok what’s next?
Through this transformational questioning, I feel like I’ve found my joy, my honest center. I will live as truthfully as I can, feeding my soul. But this is just a stage of my life, which is just like every other stage I’ve been through. Maybe in 5, 7 or 10 years I might want something different, and that’s okay. Over time I’ll notice (or not notice!) mini transformations happening as I encounter new challenges and changes. Life is constantly moving. In order to live as fully and truthfully as we can, we have to reassess our core values as time goes on.
A major factor aiding me to live like this is that I’m no longer coming from a place of fear. Through refocusing my purpose and energies day after day, I’ve learned to be brave enough to let things go, to leave room to jump and take risks for big reward.
When and how does this happen? I’m not expecting everyone to wake up tomorrow and make a huge life-altering decision. However, maybe there are tweaks and changes that can begin now, so that you can be ready for your midlife transformations when they culminate. Give yourself permission to know it’s okay to enjoy any shift that you feel in your gravity’s center. Embrace it. There is no rule book for life. All we can be sure of is the here and now, this very moment. Be authentically you.
There’s always room for tweaks and improvements in life, but it is the power of my overarching midlife transformation that brought me to this place here and now, to my feeling of being in the right place doing the right thing. So I say, “Bring on the midlife transformations and keep them coming!”