Does that feel familiar? When did it happen that everything you thought you wanted when you were in your blooming 20s has either come to pass – and passed on by - or has lost it’s allure, or you’ve outgrown it?

It happens to all of us at some level. Some are more conscious of the discomfort than others and are willing to look at it squarely and address it. Others go on trying to recapture the lost glitter forever (yikes! Grandmas in hotpants, etc.) And some just give in and become depressed, settling for what is left of the lives they planned and outgrew or that somehow just got forgotten in all the busyness of daily life year after year.

We spend our youth dreaming of what our lives will be like. Young adult years are full of attempts to capture the man, the money the status that will get us there. Then the family years of raising children, building a family and home life, creating careers around the family situations as best we can.

And then … the change happens. Yes … the “change of life” as it is called begins to take hold on us women. It isn’t just a hormone adjustment though, a cessation of monthly periods or of crows feet making a mark on our faces. It is also a change in us in this middle stage of life just as the nest begins to empty, the career or job seems to go sour or wear thin and the future starts looming in front of us with an uncertainty that is disarming, to say the least. We don’t even really know ourselves anymore. Our passion is gone and our purpose is waning. We don’t seem to be as easily impressed or excited as we used to be. We aren’t as interested in the usual activities of habit. We see ourselves differently and aren’t sure we like it, but are sure we want a change, preferably that we can control, doesn’t make us old, and doesn’t make us ridiculous. We are changing.

These are the years of maturity, grace, beauty and fulfillment. Then why doesn’t it feel like it? Why does it feel more like we’re losing something? Well, the thing we seem to have forgotten when we were planning our lives as youngsters is, that we wouldn’t stay the same. It’s interesting that we can see people and family members all around us as we grow up, changing and still not imagine that we will too. Everything changes from the way we look to the way we feel inside and what we want out of life. We didn’t expect that. It does make sense though when you remember that every cell in our bodies is replaced every 7 years. That means our personality, our hair, our sense of taste and most importantly, our body of knowledge. We’ve learned a few things and developed some wisdom and savvy.

The reality is that just like in adolescence when our hormones burst onto the scene, somewhere in the late 30s those hormones begin to retreat, their job of reproduction nearly complete. By the mid 40s we are again, thinking and feeling differently than we did just a while ago. As in adolescence, we suddenly shift out of childhood and into productive, social, giddy girls with exciting new bodies to show off and the possibility of everything we’ve seen of adulthood just in our reach … in Mid-Life, we shift again and the glamorous veil of what we have been living in, thins. We are calmer, less gullible, more grounded, and … lost. The big difference is, that at this age, we are fully capable of knowing where we are coming from. When we were children leaping into adulthood, we had little consciousness of our childhood and didn’t miss it a bit. We had spent plenty of time planning to be an adult any minute and preparing for it … unfortunately as if that was the destination of our life journey.

Surprise! Life is a journey … not a destination! And as full blown adults, we are not done growing, changing and creating our lives, and in most cases we have not planned for that. No one tells us these things, you know? Somehow we actually believed, in those early adult years, that age and life circumstances will not happen to us. Society somehow indicates that those things only happen to bad, wrong and unconscious women that don’t take care of themselves. That’s not true or fair. And here we are about half way through without a plan or a dream for this next glorious stage. And it’s uncomfortable.

This isn’t about aging. It’s about maturing and finally being free to be who you were meant to be and to keep on growing and creating and realizing the dreams that got waylaid by family issues, marital conditions, limitations of work and moves or moving on to new ones now that the original ones have been achieved and are losing their excitement. After all, the first 10 years of life we are completely dependent children, the next 10 years we are all about that reproduction activity our hormones demand, the third 10 we are deeply involved in creating family and community and career, the 4th 10 we are watching the culmination of all we have done get up and go on without us! But we still have a 5th 10 and a 6th 10 … whoa … another 20 or 30 years ahead to create! That’s actually more time ahead of us than the adult time we have already spent!!

Many women try really hard to deny this process by attending to the outsides, believing that it’s all about staying youthful looking. Society somehow programs us with the idea that we are done when youthfulness begins to fade, instead of honoring all that we have gained. That usually results in depression and fear. Others pretend it’s all just part of the life parade and they keep marching along in step with whatever is leading them, (the kids, the husband, the finances, the job, the house) and hope they will get over the unhappiness they don’t want to admit to and the “golden years” will present themselves as easy and tolerable. This too generally results in depression and desperation to hang on to all those people, places and things that have been their life for so long. It’s a losing battle. Kids grow up and go off to express their own lives. Husbands have a different passage in the middle years, a completely different rhythm that doesn’t necessarily interlace with hers. Money and jobs don’t often magically adjust to our changing tastes and desires. Ageism does exist in the workplace and it’s much more cruel to women. Moving through these middle years in this way builds resentment, remorse and regret which is painful and unhealthy in the nearing future.

Women transitioning these Mid-Life issues are best supported by insight and reality. Greeting these years with an attitude of excitement is the way to move into the full bloom of our lives; to finally find our own SELF and express our true, grown up, authentic wisdom, intelligence, experience and knowledge, hard-earned through a couple of decades of serious living is the next beautiful stage of our lives!

How do we learn to do this after all those years of attending to other people’s needs, desires, moods, demands and opinions? It’s a personal work of exploration, courage and diligence, to build Self Esteem (The warm and loving way you feel about yourself), to re-learn Self Care that is satisfying and rejuvenating. It’s also about learning to stop settling and waiting; to release martyrdom and victimhood and to let go of things and people that need to move on, on their own, or that are toxic to you, or hold you back with criticism and “shoulds”, or that keep you tethered to boring and meaningless habits and obligations. It’s a work of re-opening yourself to deeper connections by learning to nurture yourself and set self-caring boundaries that allow you to be all that you are and claim all that want and need. It’s a joyful, uplifting work of freedom and excitement as you reacquaint yourself with your Authentic, Real Self which, you have inadvertently and ingloriously built throughout your life but can now, finally revel in the fullness of!

It’s a beautiful thing to feel whole, happy, content and in harmony with Life, and without even depending on anyone else’s permission, agreement, allowance or involvement. To finally feel sure of yourself, your decisions, your taste and your goals, is more delicious than …. Well … more delicious than many things we used to think were “all that”!

Oh! And here’s the good news! If you’ve been in a depression, or dealing with anxiety, or even just taking some prescription drugs to uplift your mood and increase your energy, you can look forward to releasing all that too! Doing the personal work of self discovery and expression brings with it a sense of meaning and a clarified Life Purpose that impassions and empowers you, and that my sisters, is worth every bit of muscle you put into this work. You’ve been working all your life up to this point and now your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to work on, for and with yourself - from the inside out - and for that, you gain a sense of fulfillment and peace you wanted all along. Depression, worthlessness, uselessness, lostness, confusion, anxiety, fear, indecision, shyness, boredom … they can all be things of the past.

It’s your choice, Ladies: Take your life in hand and create it the way you want it, now or, hunker down and grow old with your secret regrets and forgotten dreams your closest friends. Be brave enough to claim what you have earned or, submit to winding down into the forgotten and disposable. I’m cheering for you!

Author's Bio: 

Stanlee Panelle, M.A. is a former Psychotherapist that practices internationally as a Personal Life Coach successfully teaching people how to overcome depression, for the past 10 years. Coach Stanlee also specializes in guiding Mid-Life Women through the transition into the best years of their life. For more information on how to overcome depression or for a free consultation contact Coach Stanlee at www.stanleepanellecoaching.com