A Pastoral Missive to Gen X Women

Laydeez, My day (and avocado toast) was ruined by the well-meaning forward of an article […]

Sarah Condon / 1.31.19


My day (and avocado toast) was ruined by the well-meaning forward of an article called The New Midlife Crisis for Women. It is on Oprah’s website, naturally. So while I was expecting some #liveyourbestlife -ness, I was slammed with the reality of your lives. I gotta say, I am worried.

I was born in 1982. I am a bi-generational (just made it up) person: Gen X and (likely more) Millennial.

My closest girlfriends are all 5-10 years older than I am. I need them to tell me what comes next in this thing called life and they need me to tell them it is okay to order prescription glasses on the internet.

But this in depth study of Gen X women in middle aged crisis has got me scared. I need 40 to look good. But according to this piece of writing you ladies are one bus stop away from killing the driver and running everyone over with the bus. And since y’all have been haunted by the idea that you have to do ALL OF THE THINGS, I’m not totally sure you won’t figure out a way to both drive the bus and run over yourself with it.

It sounds like there was a cataclysmic collision of bad things that happened along the timeline of your lives. You are like Forest Gump without the chocolate. You were born into the AIDS crisis, your young working lives have encompassed two recessions, and you got terrible advice about which hormones to be taking (take the hormones, girl!). Unlike millennials, you were still told that buying a new car, new house, diamond ring, and cereal were great ideas! We have since learned that the first two may not be as good an investment as we were told, the second one is covered in blood, and the last one is full of carbs.

HALF OF THE ARTICLE WAS ABOUT PERIMENOPAUSE AND HOW IT LASTS FOR A DECADE. Which frankly has me wondering where I can get my bus driver’s license.

There was even a bit about how hard it is to be the sandwich generation and to listen to your parents opinions on things (child rearing for starters). Girls, we need to have some #realtalk about the parents of Gen X’ers. Some of them were great. And some of them smoked weed through the Civil Rights movement and now they believe in crystals. Say it with me, “Th-er-apy.”

For me, the crux of the article was the fact that you were all the first Title IX babies. Which meant that everyone from your second-wave-feminist-algebra-teacher to your rose-colored-glasses-almost-went-to-Woodstock-mother told you that you could be anything you ever dreamed. Which is perhaps the most damning thing we can tell a child. And so there is this theme of exhaustion, emptiness, and meaningless that came up over and over again in the piece.

Ladies, you were lied to and you should be just as furious as you sound. Work won’t make you happy. But neither will kids. And both of them at the same time can feel impossible. You were told to invest everything in stuff that just falls apart: your family, your house, you job, or simply you. And now you’re staring at the next few decades and thinking, “What is the point exactly?”

What is the point? Falling apart is the point. Just fall apart. Like completely.

Let your marriage fall apart, your children fall apart, your life apart. And then see what rises to the top.

My favorite women, and the ones I hold dearest as friends, have let it all fall apart. They are broken and they know it. Related: They are all Christian. And not the kind that just keep trying to optimize their faith, but the kind that place their wrecked lives at his feet and just say, “Jesus be a Healer.”

The difficult thing about this suggestion is that we don’t get to choose it. A child gets sick, your husband cheats, you lose your job, and/or your mental health collapses. And you can choose to keep going on that treadmill of misery or you stay on it until it hurtles you into the air. Because this is no way to live.

If this sounds like a terrible option for your plans this year then I have another suggestion.

Find a hospice to volunteer at. Go to an AA meeting. Google “grace” and “church” and your zip code. Hang out with people who life has sliced into two. You will see yourself in them. And you will find relief there. Jesus might just show up too.

By the way, those Warby Parker glasses look great on you.