The term “mid-life crisis” is often used as a comical term. It is usually used to explain when a person gets to a certain age and the suddenly decides to buy a Lamborghini, move to Canada or drastically change their career. It is not only a facetious way to describe irrational behaviour though, it is a valid medical term & extensive research by professionals has been carried out (although I wouldn’t bother reading it – it’s not particularly exciting.)
But this isn’t about midlife crisis’s (well I hope not anyway, otherwise I have a worryingly short life expectancy). I’m 27 next month and in the last few weeks a number of people have asked if I’m having some sort of mid-life crisis. I’m obviously giving off these signals. And to be fair, I have noticed something of a change in my personality. I’ve become somewhat irresponsible with money, started this website, come dangerously close to buying a second car which i definitely don’t have the need, nor means to pay for and considered putting a months salary on red at the roulette table. Thankfully, I have managed to stop myself doing anything too stupid, but have undeniably become more reckless.
But I don’t think I’m alone. Not by a long shot. Life in general is much faster paced and more stressful than it was 52 years ago when Elliot Jaques first coined the term “mid-life crisis”. By my age, many people are on their third or fourth child, second marriage, have managed a team of people and have paid off the finance on their desired car. And if any 20 something year old is honest with themselves, they’re not prepared for this responsibility. Before, there was no stress or pressure over buying a house, people could feasibly do it by the age of 23 and that security of being on the property ladder gave them a safety net which gave a good grounding for the rest of their lives, which didn’t include may of the responsibilities we face by that age today.
This can only be achieved nowadays by virtue of luck or wealthy parents (which, as you have no control over your heritage, is still down to luck). I’m not saying this is the only cause of a mid-20’s crisis, but if you’re not lucky enough to have wealth family or win the lottery, you’re much more likely in my opinion to be susceptible to the mid-20’s crisis.
You reach a point where you haven’t necessarily done anything wrong, but it feels like friends and people you used to go to school with are further on in your life, whilst yours is not going to plan at all, or there’s a sudden change in your life which rewinds your progress to no better off than when you left school. At this point, you start to question what you’re working towards. Then kicks in the “fuck it, just be impulsive” attitude and irresponsible behaviour that looks very much like a mid-life crisis.
But maybe it’s a good thing. I refuse to believe I am the only one this is happening to, and i suspect that my fellow mid-20’s crisisers and I are, darwinianly speaking, on to something. We’re young enough to get this out of our system, set out a new series of life goals and thanks to a longer life expectancy than our ancestors, we have a chance of achieving them.
If this is the latest evolutionary trait for humans as I suspect it is, we can expect the mid-20’s crisis to become more and more common, replace the mid-life crisis and see a more successful and affluent generation. Here’s hoping anyway…