Midlife is f$%#ing exhausting.
Or is it the fact that in the middle of a pandemic, I have a lot going on. I’ve:
- Helped a loved one move through cancer … move into hospice care
- Caregiving for my mom from afar … and in person, driving over 1200 miles at the beginning of a pandemic. And again this summer to sell her house.
- Moved myself and my husband into a new house
- Have changed career goals again … and again
- Parenting an adult child
- Involved in a shooting
- General chaos
Need I go on?
While your list might not look exactly like my list, I have no doubt you have a list. Even just a few years ago, Gen Xers thought midlife was exhausting. I think we’ve all changed our minds. A couple of years ago it was nothing! Oh, for the peace of going back just a few years. When none of this chaos existed. (I personally would love to send myself a note, saying: Just wait!)
We’re the sandwich generation. The ones who are positioned in the middle trying to juggle caring for kids, seeing to our parents’ needs, all the while trying to build a life we love and enjoy ourselves.
How’s that working out for you?
Author and writer Ada Calhoun has written a lot on Gen X living. Her books are excellent, including her newest, Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis.
In a recent interview she stated:
We’re the Sandwich Generation, which I always found kind of obnoxious because it sounds so charming — like it’s served with peanut crackers and Tang. But it’s brutal! I prefer to call it the Caregiving Rack. It’s like a torture device where you get stretched out. It feels more like that sometimes, and it’s only gotten more intense.
It’s no wonder we’re all facing burnout, with this much stress in our lives. And the pandemic only exacerbated the situation.
In 2019, burnout was included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. But it’s only recognized for our work lives. It’s a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.
Now add in all the other stressors.
With this much stress in my life, it’s left me thinking about “what’s next” all over again.
As I’m here packing boxes at my mom’s house, trying to fit my entire life into sections each day, it’s hard not to think about what I want.
But I’m taking everything from my past, all the advice I’ve learned, the resources I’ve invested in, the relationships I’ve been calling upon, and using them to get through each day.
Is it stress? Is it burnout? Is it a pandemic?
What it is, is life.
I consistently go back to my Puzzle Piece philosophy.
I believe on average, a human will live about 30,000 days. (That’s roughly 82 years, in case you were curious.)
Why should any one of them be anything but extraordinary?
I like to think of life as a puzzle. A puzzle with 30,000 pieces. My first piece impacted the structure of my puzzle as much as the 10,000th piece. And I couldn’t fit the 15,000th piece in if I didn’t have all the other 14,999 pieces in place. It’s what made the 15,000th piece possible, right there in the middle of my puzzle.
Let’s face it, not all of them will be good. Life doesn’t work that way.
Some of them will be very, very hard. The worst.
But I try to keep it in perspective. Without the worst, I wouldn’t recognize the best.
The worst doesn’t last forever. It leads to the best. Up and down, like a rollercoaster.
I take in what I can be grateful for.
- Time with people that matter to me.
- The ability to help a situation move forward.
- Provide support.
- Knowing I can work from anywhere there’s internet access. (Even if said internet access can come and go and make me very angry at times. Like now. 🙂 )
- Loving what I do.
- Consistently building a life I choose to live.
Yep, there’s yelling and screaming and crying too. That’s being human.
But I still have the ability to write these words at the end of the day.
And always believe in them too.