Our identity is still emerging in middle adulthood

It is beyond dispute that emerging adulthood is a stage for young adults to explore and create possibilities in ones’ life.  It is common for us to see that the identity of this group of adults is still emerging.  How about people in the middle adulthood?  Those around 40/45 to 60/65 years old are also facing different challenges in their lives.  Their resposibilities and commitments in different roles increase significantly given the fact that they may have children and elderly parents to take care of.  They may also become senior leaders in their workplace.  In the face of these chanllenges, people in the middle adulthood are still facing changes in their identities.  Many of them may even face midlife crisis when they feel confused about who they are and what is the meaning of their lives.  What are the identity issues in middle adulthood?  How can people in this age group live a fruitful and meaning life despite facing all the demands in their different roles?

Researchers stated that people in the middle adulthood shift their perspective in life as they start to realise one’s own mortality.  In the past, they may focus on striving personal success and achievement as they think they still have a long life to live.  Gradually, in middle adulthood, they shift to looking for cultivating peace and achieving mental and physical health.  It is because they realise that they need to shift their time perspective to prepare for retirement and old age.  It was also found that those in the middle adulthood also obtain greater sense of personal power.  They have more stable income in general or they already have accummulated enough wealth to sustain ones’ living.  At workplace, they may have attained higher management position.  In the family, they may be the decision makers because their elderly parents are depending on them.  These shifts and realisation actually bring them into a state for further exploration and adjustment in their past life goals.  In this sense, the identity of people in the middle adulthood is still changing and emerging.

For some people in the middle adulthood, it is also a period for them to reclaiming the opposite-sex qualities.  For instance, some housewifes can have more freedom in their lives when their children step into emerging adulthood.  These females may start to reenter into the job market or returning to the university for study.  In this sense, they may start to change their focus to the development of their masculine qualities.  They focus more on obtaining acheivement for themselves.  On the other hand, some men who used to work for many years as corporate leaders may start to think about early retirement.  They may slow down their pace of living and may also cultivate some hobbies, such as arts creation.  Some men may also involve more in helping to do household chores or cooking in the family.  No matter how ones shift their lives in the middle adulthood, it is common for these people to express generative concerns for their younger generation.  Many of them may start to coach their children or mentor their junior staff for personal or career development.

In fact, some people in the middle adulthood may not be able to adjust to all these role changes and still face challenges in letting go of their life goals in their earlier adulthood.  It is important for them to cultivate an introspective stand in reviewing ones’ life in this life stage.  Sometimes, it is not easy to step down from ones’ current roles if they are still in certain important roles in the family or the workplace.  With reflections, ones can analyse multiple variables in their lives and find a suitable way of living to adjust in this lifestage.  At the end of the day, it is the realisation that we are all facing a lot of uncertainties and we are not in total control in our lives that save us from the fixation of the illusion that we could be free to choose whatever we want.  In this sense, the cultivation of mindfulness and living in the present moment can lead us to a more fulfilling and meaningful midlife.

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