Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I'm An Adult, Now What?

That's a subhead on an article in the Washington Post that Catherine Thatch over at [The Seventh Notebook] sent me the link to today. I won't give you the title, because Catherine and I agreed it was rather on the lame side (I think it may have been written by a junior intern), but I will, of course, link to it. It was written by Douglas LaBier, who identifies himself, thusly: "As a psychotherapist and a member of the booming midlife generation, I've heard many expressions of midlife distress...." His thesis is that midlife is what happens when you finally grow up. It hits some people hard; others barely at all.
"Psychologically, midlife is the portal into full adulthood. Successfully crossing that portal involves addressing the question that lies at the source of most adult emotional conflicts: 'What's the purpose of my life?'"

But exacerbating that search for meaning is the fact, LaBier says, the our forties are when the emotional defenses that we successfully used in the past to shore us up are now, much like our bodies, starting to sag. It's this collision of the Search and the Sagging, as it were, that result in the midlife crisis. Some people start over and wrestle their way to new meaning in their lives. Others, says LaBier, more or less accept their situation and try, usually unsuccessfully, to define it as happiness.

Which are you doing? Me? I'm definitely one who starts over. I'm on my third or fourth career: journalist, English prof/grad student, therapist--and now I guess I'm back to journalism, of sorts. But what about you? Are you looking for a second or third act? And this time--whaddya want to be when you grow up?

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So--whaddaya think?