Halloween is almost upon us and I swear I’ve been haunted by articles about how ghastly midlife is for GenX women. I’ve been shown or accidentally run into three such missives lately that claim that it’s worse for them than it has ever been for anyone else.
Where have those writers been for forty years? Apparently not paying attention to history, or talking to their elders, or doing enough homework to know that for eons women have been complaining about midlife, a time of life when things go awry on the bad hand and new awakenings occur on the good hand.
Realizing you’ve hit the halfway point of your life can indeed be daunting. But it’s nothing new. Especially for a woman who’s been busy juggling work, a home, and a family. No age group has the corner of the angst that can cause for some people. Scales of “happiness” were quoted, with women supposedly being more unhappy now than ever before. Oh please! The only difference is that today social media advertises a person’s unhappiness. We used to be expected to just keep it bottled up.
One article noted the incidence of divorce being higher than for generations past. Of course it is. Women now have the social, religious, legal, and economic means for getting divorced. They didn’t have that in the past. More divorce isn’t a measure of more unhappiness, it’s a measure of more freedom to get divorced when you’re unhappy.
In the 1980’s I did seminars for women about life’s transitions. I wrote a book called Surviving the Superwoman Syndrome. Then I wrote Action Plans: A Women’s Survival Guide. In the early 2000’s I did my Doctoral dissertation on self-development for midlife women and published LifeMaps for Midlife Women. I certainly wasn’t the first to address this issue. In my time there have been Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, and so many others. I’m wondering if those writers have even heard of them.
Do I think that all GenX midlife women think they have it worse than anyone else? Of course not. My hope is that they’ll start writing and share their important stories, too. We’re all in this together and need to help each other out.
Instead of haunting each other this Halloween, let’s celebrate our commonalities. And, most of all, let’s dance around the fire and have a good time.