Working women experience a different mid-life crisis than men. -Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D.
As I explore this question of the female mid-life transition I have attempted to consider all possible scenarios. Of course, being human I often find myself drawn to those friends in similar circumstances. Specifically, the woman who is educated, career oriented and actively balancing the needs of the family with the demands of advancing in her chosen profession. I have also searched for meaning and guidance in literature where I have found a variety of definitions in numerous books, articles, blogs and musings. Each of these poignant and well meaning interpretations often center around the loss of purpose a woman experiences as children launch into the world. But, I personally know of many talented, intelligent, strong, amazing women who chose to focus on their careers and to remain childless, and they are not immune to this phase of questioning at this point in their lives. Conversely, I have rarely seen writings about the male mid-life crisis where child rearing is the main topic of angst. Of course, for many men the family is a tremendous concern for them but the main question they wrestle with is what do to with their careers, should they retire, or change avocation and the sterotypiccal dealing with the inevitable loss of youth (is this all there is?). It is not often that I come across an article that specifically focuses on the women, whether they have had children or not, addressing the question of “what’s next?” with respect to their lives and careers. In What a female mid-life crisis looks like, by Marcia Reynolds Psy.D., she says,
These women have not faced a crisis, but they are facing a mid-life quest for identity.
Reynolds postulates that for the educated, goal oriented woman, this is a particularly difficult time as one tries to first define greatness and then searches to achieve it. Woman are not interested in reclaiming their lost youth, but fear missing out on what they could have accomplished with the time they have left. This resonated for me as I know many women who want to use this next act for more than just the job, being the mom or care giver for those around her.
Most importantly, Reynolds provides the reader with permission. Permission to have these feelings, permission to explore these questions and permission to spend the time and energy on finding what is right for you.
Above all, don’t let people tell you that you have no right to be unhappy with your life.
Funny how a man never worries about this, only women feel guilty for putting their needs above others, for taking time to consider what is best for themselves. Men instinctually believe they have the right to self preservation, yet a woman has to be reminded that she too is worthy of self reflection, respect and consideration.