Dealing with my 'almost 40' midlife crisis

<i></i>
 Photo: Shutterstock

This morning as I swigged my coffee, jiggled my baby and scanned for part time jobs on seek.com, I had a realisation that I am less than two years from 40 with no idea what the hell I am doing with my life.

I am not unhappy, in fact I am a pretty upbeat sort of gal. I have two beautiful sons, a great relationship with my husband, friends and some decent career experience behind me.

I don't want a Porsche or a sordid affair, yet my confidence in myself and what I can achieve with the next half of my life is at an all-time low. I have no solid plan, no exact path to follow and inside my head I am still a 20-year-old working out what I want to be when I grow up. In short - I'm having a mid-life crisis.

Once upon a time in the late 1990s I was convinced I would become a world class magazine editor in spite of achieving very average grades at school and frankly being a bit lazy.

I graduated from university with hopes of a glittering career in London and while I casually sent my resume around, I worked in an administrative job in my home town. I thought a year travelling around Australia would be fun, and as I was only 21 I had plenty of time for all that serious career stuff. Before I left the UK, I applied for a Masters in radio production and thought my future was set.

What actually happened was that while travelling and having hot sexy times with a surfer type, I realised I loved him. I deferred my Masters and 18 months later we were married. I was 24 and ridiculously happy but I was also cleaning houses and babysitting for cash.

My heady dreams of a London based career faded as we bought a house in the regional city of Newcastle. I had a decent job and as a young married couple we focussed on having fun, keeping fit and saving for holidays. Life was good.

If I was watching this (admittedly slightly boring story) on a made-for-TV movie, I'd be rolling my eyes at the screen, 'don't do it!', 'don't get married so young!', 'go work in London and do that masters in radio and he'll wait for you!' Etc.

Of course, hindsight is wonderful, and I wouldn't change our relationship or the things we have done for the world. Life is what it is and while some things never quite came to fruition, I have been lucky in many other ways.

Advertisement

I found love with a brilliant person who I can laugh and have fun with. I live in a safe and beautiful part of the world. I have my health. I have had interesting work. As a couple, we travelled around the world, we have great friends and best of all we now have two beautiful boys.

But as I look at my greying hair in the mirror and think of the choices I made 20 years ago and how life's pathways are significantly reduced to me now, I wonder, did I do it right? What choices can I still make?

Raising a family is wonderful and sometimes when I see my boys giggling or doing something new for the first time I think I could die from love and pride. Other times I am home nursing a cranky baby eating peanut butter out the jar while watching property shows from 2008 on Foxtel wondering what on earth happened.

I look at Instagram photos of friends on glamorous world trips and think, yep that's it, we need to save for an exciting family adventure. Five minutes later I am looking at post-graduate courses I can do to expand my mind and help me find a well-paid job. The next day I am madly googling houses for sale and wringing my hands over whether or not I need botox.

I know that in truth none of these big sweeping changes will suddenly solve my dilemmas. This is a phase of life, something I would likely be dealing with even if I was a world class magazine editor or instagramming photos of myself on top of a mountain in Nepal.

While I continue to wrestle with the mid-life crisis demons I also need to take time to appreciate what I have achieved so far. I haven't reached all of the goals my 20-year-old self would have liked but so what, I have lived and there's still life in the old girl yet.

I might be much older but I am also wiser and I hope that by having a crisis and questioning where I am at in my life now, I will eventually come up with a plan that makes the most of the next 40 years - for both myself and my family.