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Who Are You, Truly, In Midlife?
What if midlife is a call to uncover your greatest treasure – your beautiful authentic self? Because fully unveiling that person is the one the world needs most?
Eight years ago, I stood at the threshold of midlife, anxiously peering into the future, wondering: Who am I beyond motherhood and what am I meant to do with my life now?
I’d spent eighteen years wrapped up in motherhood. Now that role was shifting, and the landscape ahead seemed unclear. Any major life transition naturally involves some symbolic loss. Or a need to let go of what was, to make room for what's to come.
A striking quote by Søren Kierkegaard captures the sense of loss I felt at the time:
The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.
Can your inherent identity become so overshadowed by a shifting life role that you lose a part of yourself along the way? Or does it symbolize a deeper issue?
What Does Renewal and Growth in Midlife Mean?
It’s said that there are certain moments in life that awaken us to our deeper selves, and our purpose. Stepping into midlife was one of those times.
Midlife Calls You Back to Your True Self
I started searching for answers to the existential questions that surfaced at the brink of midlife. While the beauty market is flooded with a plethora of remedies to preserve your physical beauty, it says little about cultivating the unfading beauty of our inner selves.
As I filtered through the dominant messages about midlife, seeking for deeper understanding, several insights surfaced.
This life stage gently nudges you back to who you truly are.
It also offers you a valuable opportunity to refine your inherent identity by looking at what shaped you.
It stretches beyond worries about greying hair and wrinkles and taking an honest look at what shaped you in the past and deciding what you want in the future.
Your Social Identity Versus Personal Identity
My social identity was shaped by roles assigned by others. I’d spent the first half of my life following in the footprints and belief systems of those around me. It echoes back to a childhood growing up in a displaced community and a social label that implied, ‘you’re not good enough’.
Who am I at the core if I stripped away that distorted self-concept? Or, if I set aside my other role identities – mother, adult daughter, wife, sister, friend?
You can’t answer that if you never stop to ask yourself: Who are you really – what is your true nature?
What new insight can emerge if you stop blindly accepting identities imposed on you by others? What’s the worst that can happen if we shed the social masks, we wear to fit in to feel like we belong, and seek approval and external validation? Yet, doing so shifts you further and further out of alignment with your authentic self.
Why are we so afraid to be our imperfect, quirky, beautiful selves when that is the person the world needs most?
What Treasures Do You Hold Within You?
'By wisdom, a house is built, and through understanding, it is established; through knowledge, its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.'
What if the ‘beautiful treasures’ of midlife are grounded in authentic selfhood? That’s the sacred self that holds your values, passions, inner strengths, and natural abilities. What would our lives look like if we realistically integrate our natural strengths, abilities, and passions to craft a purposeful and fulfilling life, career, and relationships?
Not only that, but how can your life be richer if your treasures flow from harnessing your wisdom, resilience and skills gained from a lifetime of learning, overcoming, and refining?
And what if embracing the things that bring you deep joy and inner peace are treasures in themselves? Because that inner peace will naturally spill over into the lives of others.
What if your treasures are revealed in nurturing kindness, compassion, and generosity? And you harness this to give full expression to who you innately are.
What Will It Take to Uncover Your Treasures?
Part of uncovering my inherent treasures involved turning away from the noise and opinions of the world. I needed to turn inward to reflect on my self-concept. I explored the questions stemming from the shifting parenting role. To fully step into my identity in midlife involved releasing a fractured social self-concept and associated behaviours that never fit. Doing so led me onto a path of re-aligning and shifting back to my authentic self.
Undoubtedly, the challenges of midlife differ from person to person, depending on a myriad of factors. Unique life contexts, personalities, beliefs, and experiences all play a role. Leaning into the questions that surface at pivotal moments can lead you to renewal and growth.
To reiterate - your innate identity weaves through all your shifting life roles and relationships. Whether that’s parenthood, being a spouse or life partner, a career title or vocation.
Accessing who you truly are in midlife or any life stage, involves unchaining yourself from the shackles of social labels. Particularly the ones we keep in place to self-protect or to gain external validation. Your worth and value are unconditional. It’s your birthright, and not dependent on anyone or anything outside yourself. By unlocking your true self, you’ll also open the door to discovering your ‘beautiful treasures’. Those treasures form the foundation for enjoying a life of deeper meaning and purpose.
And while no two people and journeys can be the same because our lives are anchored and influenced by too many different realities and contexts. Yet, it also distinctly shapes us to contribute to the world in unique ways.
What would a midlife chapter anchored in your unique, innate self, look like for you?
Until next time, travel gently on your midlife journey!
The Midlife Introvert