When I was 29, I had a full on midlife crisis sans the red convertible. I engaged in endless self reflection and mourned that my 20s were gone. I changed my hair and considered jumping from a plane but I was too busy with work to schedule it. I turned 30 and realized I had wasted the real last year of my 20s being stupid. I patted myself on the back for completing yet another milestone ahead of the norm. One midlife crisis down and I could cruise until menopause, or so I thought.
At 46 I seem to have a midlife crisis every week. I often resemble a deer caught in the headlights as I yet again question my purpose, value and my bathroom scale. And yes, even as I write this I am checking the mirror to see if I now have the acne (or worse chin hair of the later years) to accompany my unexplainable teenage like angst. Oh no, what will the cool kids think?
Unlike the teen years, I don’t have to wonder about the cool kids thanks to social media.
Judging from the tweets, updates and emails I could conclude that the cool kids are stress and problem free. But I am not 16 and now know with certainty that no one is perfect.
So what on earth does this have to do with business? A fair question given that this is a very official “business” blog. Social media has a way of distorting reality. Viewing the world through 140 characters or more can lead you to draw conclusions that are riddled with gaps. Even in the age of transparency, it’s impossible to get the whole story in the time and space allotted.
Rather than using social media as a barometer by which you measure your success or failure, use it to ferret out ideas, challenges or insights for deeper exploration. What worked for another business may not work for you but when ideas or approaches resonate it is worth the time to examine them closer.
When possible reach out to those that have presented something of interest and ask if they’d be willing to share more – what were the challenges, what led to the decision about the strategy – get the story behind the story. I have discovered that with the right approach people are willing to be helpful. Be respectful and don’t abuse their time, or cloak your questions as an opportunity to get free services.
As for me, I have decided that my ongoing crisis is actually a good thing. I am constantly questioning and challenging my own beliefs because I care deeply about my life and place in it. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)
There is an abundance of information available but we still get to choose what we allow in and what we ignore and most importantly how we allow it to impact us. The upside is that every day we have opportunities to expand our perspective and learn from others. Remember the cool kids really are just like us, albeit with better hair.
What about you, any midlife or other stories to share? Does social media ever make you feel overwhelmed or question whether you measure up? Add your comments, this is a no judgment zone.
Photo Credit: © Youths | Dreamstime.com
Ken Sage says
This post seems to say that real life is somehow masked by the new forms of social media, with groups claiming that this or that is what is .cool at the present
Karen Swim says
Gill, your comment comes as I am facing family crisis and really validated for me that writing this post was the right decision. You are definitely not alone. My goal with blogging if nothing else to share this journey with others. If you ever need a listening ear, you can find me here. Bless you!
Gill Potter says
Thanks for this Karen. As someone whose life has had a liberal sprinkling of fairly extreme crisis it’s good to realise I am most definitely not alone. Recently I’ve had the courage to start sharing some of the wisdom gleaned from them too and it is really helping.
Hi Robyn! ROFL! That is a great story that I plan to share liberally! Lol!
Andrew, I could add nothing to that wonderful testimony!
Andrew Heaton says
Karen, Within reasonable limitations, to continually question ourselves about our purpose in life is, I think, a very healthy process. It’s only through that kind of question that we get to sit back and really look at the bigger picture.
As I have said before, from my own personal point of view, my own sense of self worth comes from being in relationship with god through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For me, it’s not so much about ‘what’ I am doing in my life, but living my life in a state of relationship with Jesus, honoring the lord as much as I can (no matter where I am or what I am doing), and trying to have some fun and adventure along the way.
Robyn McMaster says
Hi Karen, I went so far as to buy a sporty car with a turbo engine when I was in my 40’s just because I did not want to miss on the fun things in life and to give my image more of a “hip” look. Reality set in when my teen age daughter hit a deer with it. 😉
Hi Steve! Well you are the epitome of a life lived well! In between hot flashes and anxiety attacks, I’m having a pretty good time too. 🙂
Steve Woodruff says
I’m kind of enjoying my midlife opportunity. Enough wisdom and experience to have some realistic clarity, but not so many years that I’m drooling uncontrollably into my beard…
Davina, what a beautiful sentiment – we are spoiled to have so much information at our fingertips! It can be challenging to promote your business but remember it’s really about just finding your tribe and meeting their needs. Not easy but with the right, consistent effort it happens and you continue to build from that. Lol, thank goodness that social media makes me look decent every day. 🙂
Brad, with tears of gratitude in my eyes, thank you!
Brad Shorr says
Karen, One of the things that makes you you is your willingness to open yourself up and talk about things most of us are uncomfortable even thinking about. I wish I had your courage. This is a good thing that you do, a wonderful thing, that has real business value as well. How often does a business fail to ask the really vital question?
Karen Swim says
Brad, you are a tremendous blessing! I am struggling to express how your words affected me today but wow!
“strange combination of being extremely unsettled and extremely excited”
Yes, yes, yes, this so aptly describes this time of life and I didn’t quite have the words to say just that. What a relief to know that this is an entirely normal passage.
I hesitated to write this post because of that whole unsettled thing but I’ve already broken so many rules of blogging I’m not even sure I’m still in the ballpark..but your comment is proof that when we open up others are there to help us. I am so incredibly grateful for your wisdom, support and friendship. Thank you Brad!
Karen Swim says
Melissa, you pointed out something that often gets lost, social media is more than a business tool. I use it for business but in a personal way. I love the fun conversations as much as the virtual meetings via twitter chats. Thank you for the great reminder of the social part of social media.
Brad Shorr says
Hi Karen, When I was about your age, I started evaluating things much like you are, and decided on a large scale career change. Looking back, the experience was a strange combination of being extremely unsettled and extremely excited. A little bit of self-doubt can be a good thing: it can prompt you to make healthy changes in your life, and eventually you learn that life isn’t a competition as much as a journey. You learn to respect others for what they are, not what they do. And so there is no need to feel intimidated by social media, although it is natural that we feel that way when we rub elbows with so many extraordinary people. But instead of being crippled by self-doubt, we should rejoice in the opportunity to extend our relationships all around the world. What a blessing that is! OK, I’m done rambling. I know you are headed in the right direction on your journey, Karen. And I’m glad to be walking along with you in a small way!
Melissa Donovan says
I don’t really use social media for business much anymore. I think it’s a great tool for pro bloggers and anyone who is looking for a large audience and need to generate a buzz as well as for small businesses trying to reach local clientele. Me, I prefer to just use it for fun, especially Twitter. Although I do still have my blogs hooked up to my FB and Twitter profiles…
Davina Haisell says
I agree; there are a lot of ideas and insights to be found online. I can’t even remember what it used to be like when I had to go to the library and pour over books to find information. I feel spoiled with so much at my fingertips.
However, the Internet is saturated with people marketing themselves and selling their wares. That is where I find it to be a challenge; how to promote MY business when I’m but one drop in the ocean.
As for the chin hairs… one good thing about social media is that they can be kept hidden. 🙂
Colmoriain, so glad we older folks can laugh together and really glad to hear that I can look forward to keeping my hair. 🙂 Thank you for sharing with me and giving me a good laugh!
Loved ‘cool kids really just like us, albeit with better hair’; now in early sixties so I can assure that there will be plenty of scope for further mid life crises as your life progress but have now to rely on curly haired grandson for ‘cool’ perspective!
Thanks for sharing amusing & thoughtful blog.