Going conservative has become the new midlife crisis

I always assumed I'd be dead by now. Or failing that rich and famous. 

For those of us raised on a weird mix of '80s consumer culture and '90s nihilism there wasn't much middle ground. A lost generation that fell between the cracks, we grew up believing we'd either die early or invent Post-it Notes and be showered with fame and fortune. 

So you can imagine my surprise at turning 40 and being neither dead nor rich. This is awkward. And I'm now confronting the very real possibility that I might, inadvertently, live a long and happy life.

I hadn't accounted for this possibility. And the creeping midlife crisis it's manifested is very different to what previous generations went through. Forget fast cars and affairs with office juniors. In the past 12 months I've gotten married, purchased a house, and started thinking about long term career prospects. Clearly, I'm going off the rails.

I blame TV

Psychologist Elliot Jaques coined the term midlife crisis in a 1965 article, referring to a time when adults reckon with their mortality, and their dwindling years of productive life.

The cliched scenario is a person who got married straight out of university, took a stable job, settled down to raise a family, and woke up one morning under a cloud of regrets.

But what if you never did those things? What if Ren & Stimpy, and Reality Bites, and the arrival of the internet, and subscriptions to obscure British lifestyle magazines convinced you to forgo adulthood in favour of something altogether different. 

Which is how we've ended up here. A generation of folks that's spent 20 years enjoying a permanent state of arrested development. Who needs a mortgage and a family when you can grow a moustache, work a vague job in media, and not have to worry about tomorrow because it's all a bit conceptual anyway?

And there's the rub. As we approach middle age, we're starting to realise that the issue isn't the time we've wasted, but what's ahead. If we're not careful we could be here for another 40 years. A fate potentially worse than death. 

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Which is why our midlife crisis is a different beast. It's a half-panicked look at the horizon stretching out before us, rather than what's in the rear-view mirror. 

Live long and prosper

So how do you respond to all this? How do you have a midlife crisis when you've never bothered to settle down and grow up? When western social liberalism has afforded you the economic means to live comfortably without trying too hard? 

If you're Frances Bean Cobain, and your parents happen to be Kurt and Courtney, the most shocking thing you can do is become an accountant.

For the rest of us, it's the creeping realisation that inner city art launches, vegan pizza parlours and a carefully curated Instagram feed is no longer cutting it. Not when we're presented with the allure of an X5 Beemer, a Poodle and a renovated Californian bungalow in close proximity to the CBD.

This is new midlife crisis. A conservative fever dream descending on a fashionable, inner-city neighbourhood near you. A generation of ageing hipsters turning an eye towards stock portfolios, property prices, and school zoning districts.  

But don't worry. This too shall pass. And I look forward to the day I can put my feet up, and rediscover ironic detachment. In the meantime, there's a mortgage to be paid.

Have you left behind your youthful values for more conservative investments as you got older? Share your experience in the comments below.

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