Those two words, ‘Who Cares?’, ended my mid-life crisis and I never looked back.
But wait, is there such thing as a mid-life crisis?
Some experts say it’s not real:
‘Occurrence of the midlife crisis has turned out to be myth; research shows 10–20% of people actually experience it.’
‘Research suggests the mid-life crisis is largely a myth…Very few people report having some definable crisis that’s due to their age.’
So, what was that experience I went through in the late 1990’s which finally ended a few years later?
It was a time when I felt there was no meaning in life. I had low self-esteem. I felt there was nothing to look forward to.
It was a time in which I found myself asking or saying the following:
“Is this it?”
“There is no more?”
“What is there to look forward to?”
But was I only just one of the 10% to 20% of the population who was experiencing this? Were other people not going through this?
Even as it may be that most people don’t suffer a mid-life crisis, many do testify that they are at their unhappiest in mid-life. Happiness is a ‘U’ for many in which many individuals feel joy least in the middle of their lives.
Mid-life crisis is a matter of definition. It may not be a stage which every adult passes through at a certain age but it at least represents a time of unhappiness likely occurring sometime between the age of 30 to 60.
Experts can only guess why we feel unhappiest in our middle ages but we can guess that it is because we probably experienced loss of our loved ones like relatives and parents which are most likely to happen when we are in mid-life.
Many of us also plateau in our careers in our 40s and 50s, no longer seeing the prospect of promotion but rather the looming of retirement.
It is also when married adults in their later years see their children grow up and leave home. Empty nests become more the rule than the exception as parents get older.
Mid-life ‘crises’, which we can perhaps define as a time of unhappiness, can last quite long. For some, it can lead to clinical depression and mental health issues.
But I found for myself a cure. It came in a question with two words: ‘Who Cares?’
Much of my unhappiness was due to comparing where I was in my career and status with other people. Seeing other people get rich, have nice places to live, look like athletes, and have happy families made me want to be like them. The wealth, health, and looks of other people became yardsticks for me to follow and aspire for.
It didn’t help that relatives and friends would tell me how much they admire the rich and famous and then ask about my career and my social status. Friends and relatives would constantly be sending the message that ‘we should be like the rich and successful.’
I snapped out of my sadness when I asked myself, ‘Who Cares?’ Why indeed, should I and we care about what other people think? Why should we be striving to meet other people’s standards?
We as individuals decide our fates and whatever we decide is ours alone. Whatever other people may think is immaterial and irrelevant.
And as it turns out, few really do care. We live in a world where we have so much complicated problems to deal with. Of course, we do make the effort to help our relatives, loved ones, team-mates at work and sports, even strangers, when they are in need.
But all in all, most of the time anyway, we as adults are really on our own in this world. Some of us may work with large groups of people every day; some of us may be leaders or executives; and some of us may just be ordinary low-in-the-organisation-ladder workers who do the same routine day after day. We may deal with people or we do not. At the end of the day, however, we are always left to fend for ourselves.
It is a gift when someone does care, like when our parents used to take care of us as children, when one finds the sweetheart who falls madly in love with any of us and when the devoted spouse waits and serves us when we go home after a hard day’s work.
But most of the other 5 to 6 billion people in this planet could care less about any of us. Not that they don’t want to, but because many have so much on their plates to really give time to do so. We ourselves know this; many of us have enough already as it is to really think about other people all the time.
When we find ourselves not happy because we are wallowing in that low part of the ‘U’ of life, we should ask that question: ‘Who Cares?’ Does it matter that much about what’s making us unhappy? Is it worth it to wallow around for? Much as there may even be good reason to be unhappy (e.g., loss of a loved one, losing a job), what value would it be to sulk and ponder about it for long periods?
No matter the traumas we experience, the setbacks we go through, life goes on and most people don’t really care. The best in the end is to look at what we ourselves believe in and go from there.
We set our own pace, decide our own directions. People may tell us what to do but it’s us who finally determines whether we follow them or go our own ways.