“I believe that happiness is a choice no matter the trials and tribulations we are going through.
I have chosen to embrace these changes and dive into finding things that bring me joy. For example, I had five children and enjoyed raising them. Now they are all grown. So instead of focusing on the sadness of that, I decided that because I enjoyed my children so much, I would start watching a little one part-time to fill that void and give back to another child. Now I am venturing into my own interior design business, which gives me the ability to make my own hours and have flexibility and do something I have great passion for.”
My client, Adrienne, who shared the story above, is making conscious choices to change how she approaches her menopause mindset. But for many women in perimenopause and menopause, that happy place can be hard to get to. It can bring on the beginning of what feels like a “dark night of the soul.”
At 42, I struggled with almost every aspect of my life. I had a teenage daughter, a mother with cancer, a relatively new marriage, a good career (fortunately), a country club membership, and all the trappings of what looked like the perfect life. But I was restless and bored and had no idea where to turn next. I made some really dumb decisions, which cost me greatly. So I went to therapy and wandered through my dark night. At 47, I found myself at a women’s retreat, which began a period of deep self-exploration that continues even now. I hired a life coach, relocated despite my mother’s illness, and began to put the pieces of my marriage back together. I survived and thrived and removed myself from the midlife quicksand that threatened to suck me under.
This scenario is all too common and I’m guessing many of my readers see bits of themselves in my story. The struggle to “find” yourself in midlife is real.
In the past, the major identity shift that women faced in midlife was the transition from motherhood to freedom. And while this is still part of the equation, we now have a generation of women who entered the workforce 30-40 years ago with more choices and few models for guidance. Women now enter the workplace with high expectations of career advancement. Many in their 20’s say, “I want to be CEO,” then face the reality of having to live in the trenches for a while before they can even begin to rise up.
As they enter their 30’s and their career focus narrows, they seek meaningful, challenging work, and seek out opportunities to prove their value and make a significant contribution. This is where there’s a divergence from the experience of men. As women cope with the ongoing inequality in the workplace, #metoo, disappointments of dreams unmet, and continually feeling misunderstood and mismanaged, they begin to drop off the corporate ladder. Personal values and corporate values may clash, causing dis-ease and stress.
By the time they enter perimenopause and their 40’s, many women lose their taste for proving themselves. I know I did. When I first became a pharmacist, I announced that I wanted to be “semi-famous.” I began collecting letters after my name and I was on a mission to prove that I could do anything with a Bachelor’s degree in pharmacy. Telling me I couldn’t do something was just the inspiration I needed to do “the thing.” But by the time I was in my late 40’s, I was D.O.N.E. I knew there had to be more.
Women aren’t necessarily facing a midlife crisis. Many are facing a midlife quest for identity. Who are we if not mothers and career women (or whatever defined us in our earlier years)? If you are questioning what is next for your career and possibly, your life, this is a great time to reach out to friends who might be going through a similar experience. One of the worst things busy women do is put their friendships on the back burner. There is no need to tough it out on your own. Find a friend who is also interested in personal development who won’t judge the struggle you are experiencing. A good coach can help as well.
[bctt tweet=”Women aren’t necessarily facing a midlife crisis. Many are facing a midlife quest for identity. #MenopauseAwarenessMonth #perimenopause #menopause #midlifemindset #mindset #metoo #AnnaGarrettAsheville” username=”DrAnnaGarrett”]
Here are some questions you might explore:
- What do I feel I should have done by this time in my life?
- Is there something more important and fulfilling that I can focus on now?
- What do I want more of in my life? What is asking to be set free?
Above all, don’t let people tell you that you should be perfectly happy with your life. It is OK to lose your equilibrium when others think your life should be smooth sailing. It is OK to question your life’s purpose. It’s OK to say, “I don’t know who I am.” It is better to ask the questions and seek the answers than to live a numb life with regrets at the end of it.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Dr. Anna is the author of Perimenopause: The Savvy Sister’s Guide to Hormone Harmony. Order your copy at www.perimenopausebook.com.
Dr. Anna is available for 1-1 consultations. Find out more at www.drannagarrett.com/lets-