Today I came across a new phrase to describe midlife, ‘the afternoon of life,’ which was first used by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, in 1931 to describe the decades during and after midlife.
Whilst less offensive than ‘over-the-hill’ or ‘the wrong side of forty,’ its almost snoozy vibe, didn’t resonate with me or how I feel about this period of my life. But neither does ‘in my prime’, ‘perennial’, or ‘vintage.’
But what word or phrase would I use?
Midlife has more diverse life experiences of any age group. Some are advancing their careers; others are questioning ‘Is this it?’. Some are setting up businesses, others are retiring. Some are prioritising their health; others suffer with chronic diseases. Some are volunteering; others are travelling around the world. Some are getting divorced; others are meeting their soulmate for the very first time. Some are adapting to being an empty-nester; others are learning to accept that they won’t have children of their own. Some are unravelling; others have found purpose and meaning.
Can you capture that amount of variety in a single word or sentence?
In my experience, midlife is a multitude of transitions. Transitions that have necessary endings, messy middles, and new beginnings. A time of challenge and disruption, for reflection, self-exploration, and personal growth. A time to let go of what no longer serves us and an opportunity to invest in what does. A time to take stock, to get clear on what is truly important, and a time to say YES! to yourself.
So, whilst I don’t have my answer for you, I’d like to offer you the wisdom of David Bowie:
“Ageing is an extraordinary process whereby you become the person you always should have been.”
How would you describe midlife? I’d love to hear your thoughts.