About the 30-something crisis and not wanting to have kids yet but feeling like time is running out
(Just a few zippy words, written between bánh mì food stalls and our central Pokémon Go park):
Sooner or later, almost everyone goes through one or more midlife crises. In most cases between the age of 45 and 60 (at least regarding Wikipedia), when the remaining lifetime is visibly reduced, when the body and feelings change and the previous life is critically questioned in this context. But there’s often another little midlife crisis between the end of the 20s and the beginning of the 30s, less freaky, but comparable in terms of questions asked, self-criticism, and insecurities.
Well, and I seem to be stuck in such a first midlife crisis for about three years now — and its intensity rather increases than decreases. My life feels unfulfilled so far. It’s somehow boring, empty, and meaningless. It’s not that I’m constantly comparing myself to others and feeling pressured by that. No, instead, part of my problem could be that I’m completely on my own and have no way to compare, so I don’t know where I AM nor where I’m supposed to be. I’m looking at my previous 32.5 years of life, saying to myself: “c’mon man, you are still standing exactly where you stood 15 years ago. With the same questions regarding fulfillment and the meaning of life!“ Everything has changed, and yet nothing; it’s same-same but different.
Only time progressed.
There’re a lot of questions robbing my sleep; they cause brain-fucks and make me look confused at my past, present, and possible future scenarios. Like: where do I belong? I mean: where do I REALLY belong? Where do I want to love and live in the mid-term? Do I want to stick to my mad lone-wolf existence, wandering restlessly from place to place while being unable to commit to any sort of bindings? And leaving broken hearts and unplanned kids everywhere I go? Or do I want to sail into the safe harbor of one or several real long-term relationships, after all, to have an emotional anchor in life and to achieve some kind of stability? I’m honestly not sure if I should keep touring the world and living away from my relatives, especially my dad. Speaking of him, the unexpected death of my mom at the end of last year was an inner wake-up call for me, somehow. Especially her last sentence which she said to me a few days before she passed away: “Wir hatten keine Zeit mehr“, meaning “we had no more time left“.
Yeah, she was right. There was so much left unsaid, unasked, and unresolved. Because I always assumed that there would be enough time, later. I thought that my parents wouldn’t die within the next ten years (as everyone thinks), cause you know, weeds don’t fade away. I was taught better. And I started realizing that years of aimless wandering can lead to losing not only the thread but also what is loved. I’m a traveler, in search of … well, of what? Only those who know their destination find the way.
I’d like to arrive. But also to travel. Want to have a destination. And yet not know the exact place. Want to belong to someone. And yet not commit me firmly.
And how do I want to live and work in the future? Continuing as a freelancer for fancy and wholesome tech companies with all the freedom and self-determination benefits? Or do I want to build up my own start-up, brand, and/or product? Something to provide me with a more secure income, to have at least one thing less to worry about? The same questions apply to my old-age provision, which I’ve ignored my entire life so far. I’ve neither any special provisions, nor savings, nor plans in this respect. Sure, I’ve been aware of this since ever, but I’m pretty experienced when it comes to professional procrastination and ignorance. It’s just that, well fuck, I’m getting older (no shit, Sherlock!). And I WILL run into problems, sooner or later. So what should I do? Career? For fuck’s sake! Mining cryptocurrencies and giving nature the middle finger? Bullshit! Retire to the quiet countryside, cultivate rice and coffee and water avocado, mango, and dragon fruit trees during the day and play Minecraft at night? Maybe.
I want security. And yet not miss the adventure. Want to earn more money. And still prefer to survive with little but in freedom. I want to live carefreely. And yet move forward hastily.
This brings me to one of the most interesting changes in my mindset: kids. I began to feel the pressure to start a family and have children. If you had asked me what I thought about the idea of having children a few years ago, I would have laughed out loud and strongly denied the idea. Kids? lol, I HATE kids! But … times were changing, slowly, over years. And the more time flew by, the more tempting this idea became. And finally, temptation turned into longing, out of the deepest regions of my heart. With increasing age, the chemistry of our body and thus of its brain changes, and biological switches are activated and deactivated (I guess). Uh, however, it looks like I’ve reached the point that, given my current age, I can no longer ignore the psychical/biological longing for family and especially children. Movies with a parent-child topic often make me cry. The same goes for games. Seeing these brief yet everlasting moments of parental happiness makes me sad because my own current existence is different. I dream of jumping and rolling around with my girlfriends, boyfriends, and all the other partners, as well as two or three kids, discovering the world while teaching and learning together. Showing them curiosity, responsibility, ethics, and a healthy dose of craziness, and preparing them to survive in an increasingly complex and threatening environment. I want to see them grow and thrive and feel joy and pride.
Maybe because there’s a fear of being alone when I should have grown old one day inside. Most of my former acquaintances from Germany have had families, children (and their own houses & trees) for years, and all my lovely friends and couples in Sài Gòn are also growing and, uh, reproducing like bunnies. Even I was “made“ at a younger age than I’m already, and so were my sister and two brothers. In addition, the Vietnamese government kindly encourages the entire young population to marry by the age of 30 and to have a minimum of two children by the age of 35 to counteract the imminent and then far more drastic population decline here. Longings from within, social expectations from without, and still, I’m definitely not yet ready to take any responsibility.
I wanna have children and spouses. Now! And yet not yet. Immediately! But maybe better later. Today! Or in a few years. It sure is time, but I need more time, I’m not too old for it yet, but not old enough at all. It’s chaos, an inner war between brain and heart, logic and biology.
Time’s running — and my desires are growing.
And time’s limited. I caught myself several times thinking about not even starting another AAA open-world game, for example, because it would cost hundreds of hours of my lifetime — and the time I’ve left is decreasing day by day (it’s worth mentioning here that doctors predicted a life expectancy of around ~30 years for me due to the damage to my heart caused by several suicide attempts in the past). Yes, I caught myself trying to use activities and leisure time more purposefully, more time-efficiently — since the days of “youth and endless time“ seem to be over. I even question my daily work in terms of meaningfulness, i.e. whether the apps and products I contribute to don’t completely disappear into insignificance given the costly lifetime it takes to develop them. I don’t live to work and make money, I work to live — but is the time worth the work? Not sure about it anymore.
I neither know where I stand nor where I belong. I can only see the time that is unstoppable moving forward. And I’m afraid of wasting my life. Of wasting opportunities. And of being eaten up by time. Yepp, I’m obsessed with time. Time elapses at a dizzying pace.
There’s a huge monolith of pure panic inside me, and it’s growing. Doomsday mood par excellence.
Midlife crisis, the first. I’m looking forward to getting over it because this crisis WILL end sooner or later. Fingers crossed!