Have you read Brené Brown’s essay The Midlife Unraveling? This essay has been an open tab on my phone since I first read it last year. She writes, “to call what happens at midlife “a crisis” is bullshit. A crisis is an intense, short-lived, acute, easily identifiable, and defining event that can be controlled and managed. Midlife is not a crisis. Midlife is an unraveling. By definition, you can’t control or manage an unraveling. The truth is that the midlife unraveling is a series of painful nudges strung together by low-grade anxiety and depression, quiet desperation, and an insidious loss of control. By low-grade, quiet, and insidious, I mean it’s enough to make you crazy, but seldom enough for people on the outside to validate the struggle or offer you help and respite.”
One way the midlife unraveling looks for me is situations that arise and make me confront my mindset, patterns and coping mechanisms. Similar situations have appeared throughout my adult life, but in midlife, the questions become quite insistent, urgent, and louder. Is this (insert mindset, pattern, coping mechanism) actually working for me? Is it helping me be who I want to be or is it helping me be who is familiar to be? And if the answer is familiar and not who I want to be, then the choice becomes clear: do I want to evolve or remain?
This painting embodies the question for me with the crisp white floral contrasted against the saturated magenta pink and deep yellow (remain) vs. the floating away, subtle soft pink floral which blends more with the soft pinks around it (evolve). Remaining is comfortable, safe, familiar. Evolving is unknown, different, scary. Our brains are designed to keep us safe. As Robin Sharma said, “The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.” (click here to purchase this original painting).