How to Not Let Middle Age Break You

A manifesto for the newly middle-aged

Jennifer Haubrich


Photo by Jackson Simmer on Unsplash

I used to wonder when middle age began, but now I know that if you live long enough, it’s a point you reach at an indeterminate date, between 40 and 50. When it does arrive, you stop asking when you’ll be middle-aged.

You just know that you are.

The TV is too loud, the song lyrics all sound profane, and you don’t see why you shouldn’t go to bed if you’re tired, even if it’s 8:52 pm on a Friday.

You see all the things wrong in the world and feel the alternating weight of depression and outrage that more progress (or any!) can’t be made. It’s no longer possible to take comfort in your potential (or in that of your generation) to make meaningful change.

If that were going to happen, wouldn’t it have already?

Your body is sending you little signs of wear and tear. Sure, there are wrinkles you can no longer trick yourself into believing are due to dehydration or lack of sleep, but there are also inexplicably sore feet when you wake up. The occasional numb arm and fingers from a pinched nerve that you’ve started to believe will always be pinched. The inescapable fact is that you need reading glasses approximately every 1.6 minutes.

It’s hard not to feel betrayed. And don’t get me started on the perimenopausal symptoms.

By the way, could those 7 extra pounds that showed up overnight be some kind of fast-growing benign tumors in your thighs?

At least surgery would be a sure way to get rid of them.

In the twenty-plus years leading up to this point, you have made several significant decisions that you now live with the results of. The responsibilities you embraced as a young adult now rest their full weight on you: the job, the mortgage, the relationship, the children, the pets, all the stuff you said yes to, either out of enthusiasm or a sense of obligation. All of this is covered in an overpriced weighted blanket of existential dread.

Some days, it feels like just too much. Can’t you just have some fun??

You’re at the zenith of lifetime responsibilities with the knowledge that the clock is running out, along with your energy and…



Jennifer Haubrich

It's all about relationships, with ourselves, others, and the world. Trying to live a better life. Sometimes funny.