Midlife is usually an unsettled time of life for many of us, for several reasons. but every generation approaching the 40s has a different way to deal with it.
For GenXers is a time to claim their independence and defy tradition, security, and conformity. On the other hand for Baby Boomers, it was like making drastic changes to their relationships and careers. But for some Millennials, the first ones who approached this stage of life only last year, the midlife stressors are no longer existential, but rather material.
According to The New York Times: “Rather than longing for adventure and release, they craved a sense of safety and calmness, which they felt they had never known.”
No wonder why “elder millennials” – who since graduated high school and have experienced a series of economic, political, and environmental crises- aren’t looking for something outside of themselves to make their lives more exciting. They simply wish to reclaim peace of mind through the security of a mortgage and a family—everything that the previous midlife crisis sought to avoid.
And even if the midlife crisis persists among millennials, they’re unlikely to respond to it the same way as prior generations.
“Buying a sports car and getting a divorce, for instance, two stereotypical responses to the midlife crisis, might not be preferable — or even possible — for many millennials“, writes Jacob Zinkula on Business Insider, “They simply don’t have the money for doing that, and if they did, they’d rather spend it on experiences“.
In the end, millennials do at least have one advantage over their predecessors: more data. They are the first generation to turn 40 in a world that has significant scientific evidence for how life in their 40s is supposed to be. They can plan for that, and be aware of how much well-being improves once they climb out the other end of the decade and hit 50.
Probably the best way for all generations to deal with midlife crises is simply to drop expectations. We all still have time to assess our lives and turn them upside down if we want. Ageing is a privilege, after all.