Here are five ways we misunderstand midlife.
1. It’s time for my midlife crisis. In fact, midlife crisis is rare. The term “midlife crisis” was coined by a Canadian psychoanalyst named Elliott Jaques, based on his analysis of artistic “geniuses” as well as patients in his practice who felt an existential dread that there was not enough time in their lives to achieve their dreams. Gail Sheehy’s book Passages turned the midlife crisis into a cultural phenomenon, symbolized by the red sports car, quitting your job or leaving your marriage. But over the past 20 years, researchers have tried to find evidence of a widespread midlife crisis ”” and failed. They believe only 10 percent of the population suffers such a crisis. What most people refer to as a “midlife crisis” is really a crisis or setback that occurs in midlife, such as losing a spouse, a parent, a job, or experiencing a health scare. Most people recover from these setbacks.
2. My midlife doldrums will last forever. While midlife crisis is rare, midlife ennui is nearly universal.