OPINION: Are you having a mid-life crisis? Your car may give you a clue
PUBLISHED: 19:03 28 August 2020 | UPDATED: 19:03 28 August 2020
The Second Half columnist Nick Richards hates the term ‘mid-life crisis’ and here is why
I still remember the spring Monday morning seven-and-a-half years ago when I arrived at work and said hello to my then boss.
Dressed in cycling gear and walking along pushing my racing bike outside the office I told him I’d run a half marathon when he asked me that standard Monday morning conversation starter: “How was your weekend?”
He didn’t even give me time to tell him I’d been overtaken by runners dressed as a banana and a cheese string before taking a look at me and summing up what he saw before him.
“Are you having a mid-life crisis?”
I smiled and headed to the toilet to get changed before muttering a volley of expletives under my breath.
I was three things: Livid, patronised and, most importantly, 37.
Since then I’ve always hated the term mid-life crisis. I associate it with men growing pony tails, buying a Porsche or running off with the baby-sitter.
None of those are on my immediate agenda, but I do think the phrase mid-life crisis is most often used in association with our hobbies and interests.
Growing up as a kid at school in the 1980s there was a constant stream of clubs that you could join. Computer club, chess club, French club, athletics club to name just four. You were encouraged to try new things and expand your horizons.
The same was true a quarter of a century ago at university - you made friends in those early days by joining clubs.
In the pre-online world, it was seen as socialising.
In the past decade I’ve been a member of a running club, an exercise bootcamp, had a group of friends really into cycling and done a ballroom dancing course - all four times those choices have certainly met with raised eyebrows and curious questions from those nearest and dearest to me.
I feel as you get older you need to justify more than ever why you’re starting a new hobby.
Rather than mid-life crisis, I prefer the phrase ‘mid-life reassessment’.
You get to a stage in your life when you start to analyse things and work out if they’re still relevant. Whether that’s a career, what sort size house you need and yes, what you want to do in that ever-so-precious spare time.
And that’s also very evident than when it comes to your appearance - especially for us men.
Do you, at this age, take the route of becoming a so-called ‘Silver Fox’ someone with the enviable body of a 25-year-old, who is constantly out and about, running, cycling, climbing mountains, trying everything to defy the ageing process?
Or do you admit it’s time to give in, maybe let others redefine you as ‘cuddly’ and slowly slip into those comforting beard-growing stretchy trouser years?
Go down either route and you’ll probably have some questions to answer so it’s probably easiest to find some sort of middle ground. That’s exactly what I’ve done with my car, perhaps the ultimate barometer of mid-life reassessment.
Owning a brand new car is, for me, like eating honeycomb, swimming in a public pool or listening to the solo material of Annie Lennox.
I’ve done all those things before and I’m not really sure I ever want to do them again.
My current motor is 12 years old. It enjoyed four child-free years where it was freely pointed in the direction of Cornwall, Yorkshire, Belgium and The Netherlands a couple of times and was the car I used to escort both newborn kids home from hospital.
Now, with 135,000 miles on the clock it stands in the centre of a three-way decision that I’m struggling to resolve.
Part of me would love to send it off to the scrap heap, do without wheels and live a car-free lifestyle where I’d bike to the shops and walk everywhere else. I’d also have plenty of time to revel in the ecological kudos as I looked at the blisters on my feet.
Part of me would love to fork out big bucks on a brand new massive family car that would serve me proudly for the next decade, even though I know as soon as you drive it off the forecourt it’s worth about as much as a packet of Digestives.
And the third option is the one I’ll probably take. Keep it as it is, despite the absolute state of the footwells, the amount of sand in the boot from days at the beach and the questionable dried stains on the back seat (it’s suncream and yoghurt, honestly).
So why keep it?
Because, and this does sound like an old man thing to say, apart from the MOT, tax, insurance and petrol it doesn’t cost me anything and, yes, it gets me from A to B.
And also, because the other two options would probably be seen as having a mid-life crisis.
What do you think? Is the term ‘mid-life crisis’ wrongly used? Comment below
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