At midlife, everything that was once known to be true is called into question. However, we can’t find our way ahead without achieving radical changes in our lives. Yes, midlife is sometimes experienced as a period of malaise and dissatisfaction, but normally it is not, contrary to a stereotype, a crisis. Rather, it is a transition. If we consider midlife as an opportunity to expand our horizons, to break out from that narrowness which had once seemed natural and safe to us, then we will passionately move to the next step. But we need to be brave.
Unfortunately, there’s still such a tremendous, deep prejudice against women who are older and assertive, who are still competent and who are trying to do things that people think they shouldn’t do. Having the opportunity to team up with the University of Chester and being part of the Diversity Festival gave CrunchyTales a chance to challenge those outdated beliefs, encouraging us all to re-think the negative stories we tell ourselves and each other about growing older.
This time, we discussed the advantages of ‘reverse menopause‘ for middle-aged people in transition with Jenny Anne Bishop (OBE and Trans Awareness Campaigner) and the importance of ageing playfully — no matter your age or gender — with artist and equality campaigner Michael Jepson. Together with Emma Rees (Director of the University’s Institute of Gender Studies) we also explored the common denominator between the feminist movement and contemporary awareness of ageism. Talking about the importance of challenging stereotypes, with the help of the British researcher and leading expert on ageing Lou Taylor, we also went through a topic that it’s still taboo for many people: intimacy and sexuality in a mature age. Contrary to common myths, sex isn’t just for the young. Many seniors continue to enjoy their sexuality unapologetically.
With Humorist and Motivational speaker Theresa Robberts, we cast a light on the importance of going back to University for vision impaired and middle-aged people as a way to thrive. “Mature” is often seen as a euphemism for “old”, but it can also mean someone who is more emotionally capable of appreciating the fleeting nature of opportunities and can see studying as a fixed timeframe, rather than just an extension of high school. This can result in a more focused attitude to study.
We also had the pleasure of sharing the excitement about starting a business in midlife and the advantages of wider experience in becoming an entrepreneur at this stage of life with HR guru, Vanessa Rodhes (owner of the business consulting ImagoHR).
The harvest we reaped from our bi-monthly panel discussion –Crunchy Talks: Tales From Midlife Journeys– was once again multifaceted and abundant: midlife is truly a time of unravelling. Talking about our fears, confronting our losses and inviting acceptance as we shared our real-life stories with honesty and compassion, lead us to a new awareness: we grow whole, not old. However, to become who we are meant to be means to let go of who we once were. Nothing in nature stands still. We must walk in the skin of who we really are, otherwise, we will always be looking for ways to prove our worthiness.