If we take a survey of women in their midlife we might end up finding at least 70 per cent of the women feeling inadequate, possessing a longing for a change in life and wanting to reinvent themselves. Many of them feel they haven’t realised their potential . This phase of life may be complicated for many. Some women see 50 and beyond as a time to enjoy greater freedom from responsibility. But some feel anxious and depressed and unwilling to accept changes at this time in their lives. Some fear they are not ready to make big moves that will challenge them emotionally and financially. Afraid of changes, they would rather continue to remain in the present familiar situations with all its shortcomings
However, reinventing oneself is possible at any age. They need to push the reset button with determination and believe that the rest will follow. Reinventing yourself requires the ability to face the challenges that might come your way. It is important to assess how strong and resilient you really are to stand up to the changes that the challenge brings – whether it is a change of career, change in your personal life or anything that is likely to make a dramatic difference to your life.
I know of a housewife who dedicated her entire life to her husband, children and family. Her time was spent in fending for them. At 45, with the children away in college, husband travelling constantly, she felt lost and time weighed heavily upon her. She thought of all the things she wanted to achieve, all the interests she wanted to pursue but eventually couldn’t …with great regret. She realised neither her children nor her husband had much time for her. They were busy with their lives, pursuing their own interests. She felt an immense void engulfing her. She wondered whether they had ever asked her what she really wanted from life! The more she pondered over the life she missed, the more miserable she became, until a friend of hers explained to her IT IS NEVER TOO LATE. She realised at midlife she is not over the hill. She decided to push the reset button.
If you decide on starting anew in some facet of your life, first set your priorities clearly. What is important is to develop your self-esteem. Unless you value yourself and hold your head high, others will not value you. These are the few steps essential in reinventing yourself.
Have a physical makeover
Many women neglect their appearance once they beget children . Their life revolves around the family . This is true mainly of non-working women. Hence the pride about their appearance gradually fades and this is one of the major reasons for having a low self-esteem. A good look boosts one’s confidence in the outside world. Many women tend to put on weight after having children and they ignore it until it becomes too late.
Hence, the first step should be to exercise and lose that extra fat. Find time in the morning or evening to do this regularly and see the change in your personality. Once a month, have a facial done. This can be even simple homemade packs from your own kitchen. This removes the dead cells, makes your face glow and your own mirror image will boost your confidence. Looking young will also make you feel young.
Years ago, I met a friend of mine after she had delivered her baby. She had gained a lot of weight and was struggling to lose it. Of course, she attributed it to lack of time and that her priorities had shifted. I could sense that she wasn’t happy about her appearance and that she had no idea what to do about it. We lost touch after that as I moved out of Chennai and, several years later when we were in our mid-forties, I met her. I was astonished to find the transformation in her. She looked slim, had a bob cut and looked very smart. She was wearing salwar- kameez as against the usual saris she used to wear and looked much younger than her age. She had become articulate and the confidence with which she carried herself was very appreciable.
Thus a physical make-over can bring about wonders to your overall personality.
Many women strive all their lives to please everyone in the family. In fact it becomes a way of life for them. They can’t conceive of a disharmonious situation where their husbands and children would be unhappy and frustrated. In the process they forget that the SELF exists. They never try to please themselves. Recently my niece turned 50 and, when I called to wish her, I asked her about her plans for the day.
She said, “I have decided to do something that will please ME. I am trying to figure out if ever there was a time when anyone in my family ever tried to do something for ME – to please ME. Right from the day’s menu to watching the TV shows, it was always what they wanted. I have always done things to please them. It is high time I pleased myself.”
And then….she went ahead to do social service in the SathyaSaiorganisation which she always valued and is now one of its most indispensable members. She is now able to BALANCE her home life and the other philanthropic activities that she is involved in. She is now a very happy and contented person.
Realising your self- worth and pursuing what you need to do in life with confidence and conviction is important in order to give your best.
Pursue your dreams
In the words of Ivan Turgenev, a Russian novelist and thinker, “If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything, is ready, we shall never begin.”
Don’t look back with regret and brood about what you have missed to achieve in life. Nothing is ever too late. Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, just dreams; who looks back and regrets, will never progress; the one who looks inside, awakes. So pursue your dreams and make them come true.
Many women start learning music once their responsibilities are over. They learn for satisfying their soul, not essentially for giving concerts.
A cousin of mine got married at a very young age. She had just earned a bachelor’s degree. Once both her daughters got married and left home, she joined college again and earned her master’s degree in English Literature and Japanese. Today, she is busy doing Japanese translations for multinationals. She travels, interacts with people and feels rejuvenated.
I always wanted to be a writer. Between my teaching and my home responsibilities, I completely forgot my passion. I started writing when I was on sabbatical. I tried not to feel disheartened when my work was not published initially but I was relentless and pursued it with doggedness. Today when I see my works in print, I feel a tremendous satisfaction, having achieved my goal even if it is in a small way.
Don’t worry about support and encouragement
If you start looking for support and encouragement in what you want to do, you might be disappointed. There are husbands who support their wives in all their endeavors and there are husbands who are too busy to attend the music concert of their wives or read the articles or stories written by their better halves.
That shouldn’t matter because you need to do things that please YOU, something that makes YOU happy and brings contentment and peace within you, something that gives you immense satisfaction, fulfilment and a sense of achievement. Having lived for the family for all these years, you need to start living for yourself now.
I end with a quote by Meister Eckhart, a German philosopher:
“Become aware of what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it.”
The doors are open, walk through them, explore and find the treasure you have been looking for.