About the mid-life crisis and not wanting to have children yet but feeling that time is running out
Sooner or later, almost everyone goes through one or more midlife crises. In most cases between the ages of 45 and 60 (at least according to Wikipedi), when the remaining life span is visibly reduced, the body and feelings change and the previous life is critically questioned in this context. But there is often another little midlife crisis between the late 20s and early 30s, less bizarre, but comparable in terms of questions asked, self-criticism, and insecurity.
Well, I seem to have been stuck in this first mid-life crisis for about three years now – and its intensity is increasing rather than decreasing. My life seems unfulfilled so far. It is somehow boring, empty, and meaningless. It’s not that I am constantly comparing myself to others and feeling pressured. No, on the contrary, part of my problem might be that I am completely alone and have no means of comparison, so I don’t know where I am or where I am supposed to be. I look at my previous 32.5 years of life and think, “Come on, man, you’re still where you were 15 years ago. With the same questions about fulfillment and meaning in life!” Everything has changed, yet nothing; it’s the same but different.
Only time progressed.
There are many questions that rob me of sleep; they make me lose my mind and look confusedly 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 medium term? Do I want to stick to my crazy lone-wolf existence, constantly wandering from place to place while being unable to commit to any relationship? And leave broken hearts and unplanned children everywhere I go? Or do I want to sail to the safe harbor of one or more real long-term relationships, after all, to have an emotional anchor in life and achieve some stability? Honestly, I don’t know if I should continue to travel the world and live away from my loved ones, especially my family. Speaking of them, my mother’s unexpected death at the end of last year was a kind of inner awakening for me. Especially the last sentence she said to me a few days before she died: “Wir hatten keine Zeit mehr”, which means “we had no more time”.
Yes, she was right. There was so much left unsaid, unasked, and unresolved. Because I always assumed that there would be enough time, later on. I assumed my parents wouldn’t die in the next ten years (like everyone else thinks) because you know, the weeds don’t go away. I was taught better. And I began to realize that years of aimless wandering can lead to losing not only the thread but also what you love. I am a traveler, searching for … well, for what? Only those who know their destination can find the way.
I would like to arrive. But also to travel. I want to have a destination. And yet do not know the exact place. I want to belong to someone. And yet not to commit me firmly.
And how do I want to live and work in the future? Continue to work as a freelancer for sophisticated and healthy tech companies, with all the benefits of freedom and self-determination. Or do I want to create my own start-up, brand, and/or product? Something that allows me to have a more secure income, to have at least one less worry? The same questions apply to my pension provision, which I have ignored all my life until now. I have no special provisions, no savings, and no plans in this regard. Of course, I’ve been aware of this all my life, but I’m pretty experienced in professional procrastination and ignorance. It’s just that, well shit, I’m getting old (no shit, Sherlock!). And I’m going to run into problems, sooner or later. So what should I do? A career? Holy shit! Mining cryptocurrencies and giving nature the finger? Bullshit! Retire to the quiet countryside, grow 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 out on the adventure. I want to earn more money. And yet prefer to survive with little but freedom. I want to live carefreely. And yet move forward in haste.
This brings me to one of the most interesting changes in my mindset: children. I started 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 firmly denied the idea. Kids? lol, I hate kids! But… times were changing, slowly, over the years. And the more time passed, the more tempting this idea became. And eventually, the temptation turned into a desire, coming from the deepest regions of my heart. As we age, our body chemistry and therefore our brain chemistry changes, and biological switches are turned on and off (I guess). Uh, however, I seem to have reached the point where, given my current age, I can no longer ignore the psychic/biological desire for family and especially children. Movies with a parent-child relationship theme often make me cry. The same goes for games. Seeing those brief but eternal moments of parental happiness makes me sad because my current existence is different. I dream of jumping and riding with my love-buddies and all the other partners and two or three children to discover the world while teaching and learning together. To teach them curiosity, responsibility, ethics, and a healthy dose of insanity, and to prepare them to survive in an increasingly complex and threatening environment. I want to see them grow, thrive, and feel joy and pride.
Maybe because I’m afraid of being alone when I should have grown old inside. Most of my former German acquaintances have had families, children (and their own houses and trees) for years, and all my lovely friends and couples in Sài Gòn are growing up and, uh, breeding like rabbits. Even I was “made” at a younger age than I already am, as were my sister and two brothers. Also, the Vietnamese government is gently encouraging all the young population to marry before the age of 30 and have a minimum of two children before the age of 35, in order to counter the impending, and then much more drastic, population decline here. Cravings from within, social expectations from without, and yet I’m definitely not ready for any responsibility yet.
I want to have children and spouses. Now! And yet not yet. Right now! But maybe better later. Today! Or in a few years. It’s time, for sure, but I need more time, I’m not too old for that yet, but not old enough at all. It’s chaos, an inner war between brain and heart, logic and biology.
Time is running out – and my desires are growing.
And time is limited. I’ve caught myself several times considering not even starting another AAA open-world game, for example, because it would cost me hundreds of hours of my life – and the time I have left is getting shorter by the day (it’s worth mentioning here that doctors have predicted a life expectancy of about ~30 years due to the damage to my heart from several suicide attempts in the past). Yes, I have found myself trying to use activities and leisure time in a more focused, time-efficient way – since the days of “youth and endless time” seem to be over. I even wonder about the meaning of my daily work, whether the applications and products I contribute to are not disappearing into insignificance completely given the expensive life 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? I’m not sure anymore.
I don’t know where I stand or where I belong. All I see is time moving forward ineluctably. And I am afraid of wasting my life. Of wasting opportunities. And of being devoured by time. Yes, I am obsessed with time. Time flies by at a dizzying pace.
There is a huge monolith of pure panic inside me, and it’s growing. Doomsday mood par excellence.
Midlife crisis, the first. I can’t wait to get over it, and this crisis WILL end sooner or later. Fingers crossed!