Mid-Life Crises and Meltdowns

Two days ago, I was at a Timberland store trying out one of their new foldable and zippable slip-on shoes that you can wear without socks. One young salesman (and they really have nice people) knew exactly which buttons to push in a 47-years old man…he told me when I was trying them out that people around me would be very impressed. I laughed and told him that I was way past wanting to impress anyone…but I landed up buying the shoes anyway.

He had touched the right nerve. The older people get, the more they want to look good and “hot”. While clothes help, beauty parlors and gyms also make a difference. Why is it that a good number of people in a gym on any given day are in their mid-40s or 50s? Why is that the 40Plus Marathoners group on Facebook has more than 100 members?

The mid-40s are a complex time. We are well off financially and socially and most of the times emotionally as well, but we are aging at the same time. While we still want our bodies to function the way they did when we were in our 20s, the joints have started creaking. And so we try to cling to these memories of our nimble youth and try hard to continue to make ourselves a shade more “desirable”.

But what happens when you already are and have been the most desirable man in the country! And young studs slowly but surely have started upstaging you! I cannot imagine myself in those shoes (Timberland or otherwise), but it must hurt! And when that happens, when one can see that soon there is a real chance of becoming irrelevant and when a few films don’t really do as well as expected, it must lead to a certain change in temper and disposition. Unfortunately, what in Mr. Rajesh Khanna’s days would have remained behind close doors or at the most would have come out in next month’s copy of Stardust now becomes instant knowledge world-over.

Not too many professions allow people to be more useful and important as they age. The more grey hair a doctor has, the more experience he/she usually has and the more patients go to him/her. The same usually goes for lawyers, teachers and personal accountants. But if you are an investment banker or an alpha male in the race to become CEO, you have a short-lived life with young blood constantly baying at your feet, waiting for that one misstep that will have you out soon. And if you don’t make CEO by your late 40s or early 50s, you will be forced to “retire” soon thereafter. In the entertainment industry it gets worse, especially if you are a “hero” used to constant adulation.

Why just men! What else is it but a mid-life crisis, when the fame and adulation during a couple of reality shows continue to be so addictive that you leave the country where you have resided for more than 10 years and come back in your mid-40s to become a heroine again?

Most of us deal with our mid-life crises by doing “third” things apart from our work and home-related stuff. Running, writing, teaching, traveling…things that allow us to get through to our 50s and 60s easily and gracefully. But when you don’t have a “third” thing or your fame doesn’t allow you the freedom to explore other avenues or your “other” ventures don’t work out…how do you deal with a mid-life crisis?

You burst and curse and have a meltdown!


  • Indeed! Wonderful insights.

  • Pushpendra Shah wrote:

    We learn to age gracefully . . . Like fine wine left in the cellars for 47 years . . . Or I should say SHOULD AGE GRACEFULLY…

  • Sunil Kamath wrote:

    With the no. of Beauty Parlors and Salons, ‘mushrooming’ like nobody’s business…It seems NO ONE WANTS to AGE…which leaves ‘redundant’ the old adage….AGING WITH GRACE.

    This is ABSOLUTELY TRUE, as far as some of the BOLLYWOOD HEROs are concerned, who go on to act opp. the Heroines..half their age.


  • relatively early on in my career I was sent to attend this workshop for managers. Now this was like a couple of years out of college mind you when people are pretty raw. My boss, who happened to be the CEO of the company, saw potential and wanted me to be fast tracked ergo the recommendation. One thing I learnt and that has stayed “after a point no one will be there to encourage you or recommend you or make you feel motivated, you have to do it for yourself. Stop expecting feed back after a while and start being self motivated.”….. That my dear Watson is the difference between an Aamir Khan and a SRK. One has grown up and found his calling (social marketting) and the other is stuck at what he started with (playing to the gallery). Then again we as a people over analyze a lot :)….

  • H.L. Chulani wrote:

    Life begins after 60 if you look at it without envy!

  • excellent artical and analysis of human mind

  • nitin Tamhane wrote:

    it is the zest for good life which carries you through the midlife and beyond.

    Get your inspiration from Shobha Dey,Rekha,Amitabh,Anil Kapoor,Rahul Bajaj,Sunil Gavaskar,Vilasrao Deshmukh….. and good old Khushwant singh…

    Parlors and sports shoes are not needed it is the fire in the guts and mind.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Seriously. I don’t want any inspiration from Shobha De, Rekha, Vilasrao Deshmukh.

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    And not Anil Kapoor either.

  • Ads which call the person without two sim cards, a fancy mobile or a little grey hair,”uncle” contribute to this culture. The “uncle” has no reason to look abashed. He should instead tell the upstart off saying I buy what I need, not what the advertiser wants me to.

  • yojana wrote:

    And that too frm a man who is spposed to b intelligent and v gentlemanly!
    He is justified in gttng angry ‘cos he’s a father but howz he justified in abusing the way he did, ‘cos again……… he’s a father!

  • Aarmaity Surendra Patel wrote:

    Your good health will automatically make you age gracefully ! So inner nutrition is important rather than the outer.

  • shaukat wrote:

    i get all my inspirations from Khushwant.He is a real grand young man who has inspired million to ENJOY libido by having a DIRTY(his words)mind & thoughts.
    I am 11 yrs ahead of you, bhavin!!!!

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    Now Khushwant is someone definitely to emulate.

  • dipali wrote:

    As usual,I find myself completely agreeing to Dr Bhavin.Sometime back there was an awards function on TV,but the kind of anchoring and humour that was at display by this superstar was simply not watchable.and the heroines who were the butt of his jokes were sitting there laughing as if it is very normal(a lady was sitting with her husband who laughed as well at the cheap stuff).I wonder who enjoyes these kind of shows.It is a pity that such popular awards have been degraded to this level by a so called superstar.I think he is self destructing his very carefully builtup image over so many years.

  • Lakshmy wrote:

    Fantastic article Bhavin !!!!I am nearing 40, the so called “mid-life crisis”… We are a group of five friends,all in the late 30’s and we help each other dabble and find the “third thing” to ease our crisis.This summer a couple of us took up swimming as our long term goal, we have successfully completed our swimming sessions and motivate each other to practise and make it perfect . We have decided to take up one new thing and try to master it so that by the time we get to 60 , we’d surely have the third, fourth , fifth and many more things to keep us going .But I think more than the physical aspect its the mind that plays a major role in accepting and ageing gracefully ……..

  • Bhavin Jankharia wrote:

    That’s very nice Lakshmy

  • Jaya Bajaj wrote:

    Hi Bhavin,

    Fantastic blog! Will bookmark.

  • You refreshed our memories on an article you earlier wrote on ” Your Third Thing”. It was and will always be soo true. Age or otherwise what keeps me [and maybe applies to all] is doing your Third Thing.
    I would share my experience. I planned to walk away from my mad work employment when I would turn 45. I missed the target but eventually did so at 47. past 8 years I spend two days a week working and rest doing my third thing [music] amongst various other activities that I enjoy. It’s really in your mind. Enjoyed your Article Sir as usual. Thanks

  • I am 76 years old and enjoying my retired life by taking interest in gardening taking active part in activities of senior citizens Association, consumer guidance,religious pooja, bhajans etc. The life is full of activities which provides enthusiasm vigour and purpose. So it is the attitude of a person towards life that makes it meaningful whether at the age of 40 or 60 or 80

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