If you’re a man, your 40s means you might be fighting an ever-expanding waistline or facing multiple hair dramas such as wayward grey hairs or a receding hairline. You might also be stuck in a career rut as you watch the next bunch of twenty-something entrepreneurs sell their two-year-old dot com businesses for X billion to Facebook before you’ve even figured out what the point of the “reactions” button is compared to the “like” button.
Regardless, the main feature of your crisis will be obsessing and over-analysing your lot in life: your achievements, failures, career, lovers, partner, kids, friends and wondering what it all means.
Calm down. It’s only a midlife crisis.
To compensate, you might find yourself splashing out on expensive “boy’s toys” and passive-aggressively justifying your purchase by telling yourself – and everyone else – that you always wanted a Bugatti smart toaster that cooks vegetables and steaks using semi-conductors.
If you’re not buying up cutting edge, see-through domestic consumer appliances, you might be spending your cash on light-hearted gadgets and gizmos that are designed to entertain and help you reminisce about the “good old times”.
You can be “down with the kids” and revel in your own coolness because you were there when the “first” and “proper” Star Wars movies came out. Note: you cannot use the phrase “down with the kids”. For that you will be mocked, possibly even tortured, and rightly so.
You might also feel a sudden rush to get out there and do all the exciting things you’d never previously made time for, like going to a music festival. If you can’t stomach the thought of all the mud, rain and using public toilets at such events, at least start calling it “Glasto” instead Glastonbury. Failing that, you might find yourself splashing out on a drum kit or guitar, or doing some adrenalin-fuelled activity like quad racing – it’s ok – it’s got four wheels, not two, so you’ll be safer (probably).
When your mid-life crisis starts, drastic reactions to it will attract extra attention and jokes: some behind your back, others in your face.
But don’t let that deter you.
Your introspection at what it all means and your desire to rediscover your youth is a rite of passage and yours for the taking! Just don’t do the obvious. That means no to buying a Ferrari, getting a spacer earring, chasing after a woman half your age and half the world away, or suddenly jacking in your job in the hope of becoming the next JK Rowling.
Instead, here are five (slightly less reckless) things you can do to enjoy your crisis years:
1 Drown it out
One way of enjoying your crisis is to ignore it. The boss demanding yet another report by the end of the day, the office gossip-queen’s non-stop verbal diarrhoea, the tinny-sounding beats and tweets from your fellow commuters’ earphones and mobiles, not to mention your three-year old screaming “just one more daddy!” and the nags about all the DIY you promised to do but knew you never would – frankly, you can live without all the fuss and bother. And now you can with noise-cancelling headphones!
See Also: How To Be The Hero Of Your Own Story
2 Get a fake tattoo
Just because you had the good sense not to get your first lover’s name tattooed on your arm when you were sixteen won’t stop the sudden urge to get a tattoo when you’re 40-something. So, before you head off to the tattoo parlour and make a terrible mistake, try a fake one that you can scrub off when your mates turn round and say “Rodney, you plonker.”
3 Fulfil your need for speed
The Porsche is probably the most iconic midlife crisis purchase of all time. Sure, it’s a beautiful car, but is it really worth blowing your hard-earned cash on? Do you know the running costs or want the constant worry of scuffing the alloys on the curb?
If you want a petrol-head adrenalin kick, book yourself in for a supercar driving experience. That way, you get to drive your dream car, on a real racetrack, with expert instruction from some of the country’s top drivers and you won’t look like a man who everyone knows can’t really afford a Porsche, but bought one anyway just to show ‘em who’s boss.
4 See the “virtual” world
If you can afford to take a year out, then sure, pack your bags and head off to see the places you’ve always wanted to visit. But if not, treat yourself to a virtual reality (VR) headset. There are loads of travel apps out there to help you satisfy your resurgent wanderlust.
Maybe there’s a spectacular place you want to visit in a unique way – hovering 500 feet above the Grand Canyon for instance – a rare animal you want to see up close, or a favourite destination from your younger days that you’d like to re-visit.
No, it won’t be the real thing, but you’re of an age that will appreciate the technology all the more because it didn’t exist when you were young. And of course, you’ll make it home in time for tea.
5 Get in shape: without blood, sweat or tears
If Kevin Spacey’s 42-year-old character in American Beauty has taught us anything, it’s that midlife crises and expensive exercise equipment go hand in hand. But turning your garage into a fully-fledged gym isn’t realistic – because where are you going to put the Porsche?
So you might not need to clean out the exercise equipment store. Instead, start out with activities that get you moving and that you enjoy. This could be walking the dog or even flying a drone.
After all is said and done…
If you’re still left wondering what it all means, it might be time to look at things from a different perspective. Instead of asking yourself “what is the meaning of life?” ask yourself “what would be a meaningful life for me?”
It worked for Alan Watts. It might work for you.
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Author: Mr C
Author, photographer and father of two.