“Oh, look, it’s Midlife Crisis Patricia.”
That’s how I was greeted at work a few days ago.
Apparently my 29-year-old co-worker was taken aback by my all-black outfit, grey leather motorcycle jacket and black Jackie O. sunglasses.
Mind you, I would have worn the exact same thing just a week ago, days before my 40th birthday.
And somehow, the very un-cougarish black patent leather clogs on my feet escaped her notice (sorry, but my back was killing me and they are damn cute!).
She then laughed, “Where’s your tattoo?”
Well, you’ll have to wait a few weeks for that until I can get an appointment with Lacie the tattoo artist.
The tattoo WILL happen, as will the piercings at the top of my ear. I’m really tempted to get a nose stud, too, but I might just be too much of a chicken for that.
And full disclosure…I bought a convertible a few months ago.
All this prompted by my 40th birthday? Yes. Caused by a midlife crisis? No.
Not that I didn’t have to sit and think a bit about my co-worker’s accusation. Was I acting age-inappropriate? Was I trying to recapture my youthful cool?
No—because I’d never had youthful cool to begin with!
This is the misperception about the “midlife crisis.” It’s not a crisis at all! It’s more like a midlife “breakout.” I’m not getting tattooed and piercing stuff and buying a convertible because I’m trying to be like I was when I was 20; I’m doing those things precisely because I WANTED to do them at 20 and didn’t have the freedom. Get my nose pierced? Yeah, smart thing to do when you’re trying to get your first job during the Bush I recession. Buy a convertible? Ummm…with my 18K per year salary?? Like THAT was going to happen. Buy a $500 leopard-print purse? Dad would have loved that when he was still helping me pay the bills.
My co-worker completely overlooks the joys of getting older. At 40, I can do what I want, when I want, with whomever I want, for as long as I want, with whatever tattoo I’d like to have hanging out. I’m established enough in my job and have enough credibility with my clients that if I ever did get the courage to pierce my nose, I wouldn’t have to worry about professional backlash. I make enough money that I can splurge on the convertible (and not be charged a higher insurance premium because I’m a younger “high-risk” driver). I can wear leopard-print shoes that are cute or Dansko clogs that are clunkily comfortable and NOT worry if people think I’m fashionable. I can stay at home in my jammies on a Saturday night with a book and not worry about people thinking I’m a sad spinster singleton (because I really don’t care if they do).
Now, the shades and the leather jacket and black clothes? That’s been part of my look since way back and has nothing to do with getting older. But now I can afford more expensive leather and more than one pair of sunglasses.