Midlife Roller Coaster: Dreams, Doubts, and What-Ifs

There’s a part of me that wants to tell Will, “Let’s sell everything we own and buy a property either in the mountains or near the beach, and start a new life.” I’m torn between the two, but leaning more towards the mountains.

This part of me, who wants to pick up and permanently head out of town, is completely contrary to who I am. I’ve lived in the same town most of my life, other than a few years in my late teens and early 20s. I can’t imagine anywhere else truly feeling like home.

At my core, I am very risk-averse; a creature of habit who does not like stepping out of my comfort-zone, doing unfamiliar things. Well, that’s not completely true. I do enjoy traveling and visiting new places, but I’m always relieved to be back at home when the trip’s over.

However, this other, peculiar, part of me, wants to be a risk-taker. It says “Do it. Take a chance. Get out of your comfort zone – you only have one life to live.”

Fear of the Unknown

Anytime I get on Instagram, I inevitably come across videos of people traveling the world, living out their dreams. If they can do that, why can’t I simply move 2 or 3 states over and start anew? Because the unknown scares me.

Yet, I’m starting to realize that just because I’m living in a familiar place, surrounded by familiar people, it doesn’t eliminate the uncertainty in my life. I want to stay where I am because it’s comfortable, but I also worry about my future every day. Will our business be successful in the long-run? Am I doing enough for my kids to help them be successful and independent in the future. Basically, I worry about everything all the time.

 If I moved away, the things I currently stress about would still exist; plus, I’d be in a new place where everything is unfamiliar. I would lose that comfort.

Would moving to a strange new place be the thing that pushes my stress level to the breaking point? Or would it be the fresh start that reinvigorates me and motivates me to take other risks? Perhaps I could finally gather the courage to pursue my passion (Click here to read about my struggles with self-doubt).

Is it Intuition...

As I’m writing this, I feel excitement at the prospect of picking up and starting fresh somewhere new. I have this (false?) intuition that it’s what we should do; it’s the key to being happy and successful in the future. However, the realist in me (or is it the pessimist?) starts thinking it through in greater detail:

  • You will need to do extensive research to see what states/towns you would actually want to live in.
  • You will then have to travel to those places and get a feel for them in-person.
  • If you find a town you really like, you’ll need to start looking at real estate listings.
  • You also have to look at commercial spaces for the business.
  • You will have to find a good school for William. And on that note, how will he feel about moving to a new town and a new school where he doesn’t know anyone?
  • You will have to do some work on your current properties to get them ready to sell.
  • You hate packing, moving, and unpacking.
  • Your parents are in their 70s. Would you really be okay with moving far away from them?
  • You’ve never lived more than an hour away from your family. Could you really move 8 or more hours away?
  • What about the girls? Even though they’re technically adults, how will they feel about the move? Would they want to come too or stay in their hometown?

Every time I typed one of those bullet points, my heartbeat quickened and my anxiety increased. In reality, it’s not as simple as selling everything we own and just moving to the mountains. Yet, my intuition is still saying that I should really consider doing it.

... or Something Else?

In the midst of writing this, it literally hit me. Maybe this is a mid-life crisis. This irrational impulse is not my intuition speaking to me – I’m actually experiencing a mid-life crisis.

I thought that was just a B.S. thing to describe a phase that (some) men go through when entering their 40s or 50s, and they suddenly decide to buy a sports car or pursue a barely legal girlfriend. But now I’m starting to think it’s a real thing, and it doesn’t just happen to men.

Typically, I think of a mid-life crisis as a man’s desperate attempt to regain something from his youth, to feel young again. What I’m experiencing is more of an urge to make a big life change, to experience something new. I don’t want a new husband or a new car, I want a change of scenery.

Talk it through? Or keep it to myself?

Talking it through with my husband is pointless. He’s ripe for a mid-life crisis, having entered his 40s not long ago. Plus, he loves taking risks. He would undoubtedly have few hesitations about moving to a new state and starting fresh. If I discuss it with him, he may think it’s a FANTASTIC idea and start trying to persuade me to do it.

Or, he might think that moving is a horrible idea and wonder if I’ve lost my mind.

The reality is, I’ll never know if my ‘intuition’ is correct, or if I’m having a mid-life crisis. The same day that I finished this first draft, my dad was taken to the hospital, suffering from a possible stroke. Luckily, it was not a stroke, but he spent 6 nights in the hospital and will require therapy for a while. I can’t bear the thought of something serious happening to one of my loved ones, and not being close by.

Though the urge to move away is likely to remain, the possibility of acting on it is off the table. For now.

Most of us abandoned the idea of a life full of adventure and travel sometime between puberty and our first job. Our dreams died under the dark weight of responsibility. Occasionally the old urge surfaces, and we label it with names that suggest psychological aberrations: the big chill, a midlife crisis.

Tim Cahill