What women seek in midlife isn’t really that different from what we’ve always wanted at every stage: love, happiness and confidence – easy peesy! The difference in midlife is that we have perspective. We know there’s more to getting what we want than wishing upon a star. By this time, we have an understanding of how the world works and how we ourselves work, and we are clearer about what love, happiness and confidence mean.
Love and Self-Love
The simple answer to what women want in midlife is that we want to feel loved unconditionally. And we want to have people in our lives to love. In order for that to happen, we need to feel like we are worthy of love in the first place. We want to be confident in who we’ve become, and in the choices we’ve made. At least most of our choices – we’ve all made some we’re not proud of or that in retrospect were not quite right. But we want to believe that we’ve carved out our place in the world and are reasonably content with where we’ve landed.
We want to like ourselves. We want to accept ourselves and finally quiet the inner critic, enough to feel unapologetic for how we turned out. Not that we’re done evolving of course. In the past decades we have learned how to navigate relationships and their challenges, and how to trust and count on those relationships. Or at best, how to spot a bad relationship and be able to extricate ourselves or set some boundaries for protection.
We want to feel good physically, feel healthy and not beat ourselves up for bad habits. Being happy with our bodies as they’ve matured (I won’t say aged because that word makes us all panic) is within reach and not just an aspiration. In part because we’ve readjusted our image – the days of bikinis are probably behind us (especially if you look at your rear end in a mirror these days) and ideally our younger-never-good-enough image has been replaced with I-can-live-with-and-even-like-what-see.
Control & Purpose
Having a sense of control of our lives and our future is essential. This is the time for self-reflection, to assess where we are in our lives. For some women, this triggers a midlife crisis, as per articles seen on the Cleveland Clinic and heathline websites. Much has been written regarding the stressors such as balancing work and family responsibilities, divorce, financial worry, menopause, and questioning career success. How well you navigate this period depends on your unique experience.
Having a purpose and finding satisfaction in some area of our lives, be it professionally, creatively or otherwise, helps us envision what we want our lives to look like now and later. Studies have shown that people who don’t have a purpose later in life are more likely to decline physically and emotionally much faster than those who do.
Midlife leads to getting older and perhaps facing uncertain finances, as our earning potential may lessen. We all want to feel secure, or at least not be crippled by anxiety around money. Many women share the fear of running out of money. I know I do, after witnessing my mother burn through hers and ending up on social services. Some of us have been fortunate enough to have solid finances and have planned well. The rest of us just want to feel like we’ll be okay (and not end up like my mother). We also don’t want to have to depend on our children or anyone else. Independence in midlife and beyond is empowering.
Which brings us to the future….in midlife we want to be excited about the future and have things to look forward to. When we were much younger, the future stretched out indefinitely. Now it is more finite, which is scary. We can choose to live in fear that nothing will get better, that the best is behind us and all that awaits us is getting old, sick and depressed. You can focus on all the things that aren’t making you happy in the present and get stuck. Or you can embrace the idea that there are still options, and nothing is set in stone. The future means possibilities, new opportunities you haven’t yet imagined or encountered. You may as well pick the path that takes you somewhere you want to go. It will keep you moving forward rather than being stuck, and you will create reasons to be hopeful. Again, it’s simply a matter of perspective, which happily, you do have some control over.