Outcome Of Midlife Change

When I wrote my book, The Art of Midlife: Courage and Creative Living for Women, I hoped to understand what happened after people worked through their midlife issues and came out on the other side.  It was true – I learned a lot. I was delighted with the stories I heard. I was inspired by the changes that women made.  I was encouraged by their courage.

The outcomes of changes made at midlife seem to be consistent.  The changes, whether dramatic or small, made people feel more authentic – the shifts brought them closer to the people they wanted to be; they felt real.  Often people described slowly making compromises during adulthood, drifting in directions that seemed necessary at the time in order to deal with life’s situations.  Over time, these changes piled up and people felt lost in their years of compromise and attending to others. 

At midlife, they reviewed their lives, took stock of themselves, let go of ill-fitting relationships, ideas, or behaviors, and reclaimed behaviors, ideas, or ways. They began to feel like they were back on track.  Some changes were very dramatic – coming out as gay, starting a brand new business, quitting a job, divorce, or looking for birth parents.  Other changes were less colorful but redirected some aspects of their lives.  All in all, they were pleased with their courage and their choices even if the choices were not permanent.  They felt increasingly free and authentic.  It reminded me of the interchange in the story, The Velveteen Rabbit, when the bunny wants to understand what it means to be Real and the Skin Horse says, “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept.”

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