Likely stemmed from their emotionally protective fear of our own possible disappointment, we were encouraged to aim lower. We were taught to be sensible. As a result, the vast majority of us stopped thinking about reaching for the stars. The rich and famous dream lasted longer for some than others. Some of us pursued higher education in the field of our choice to get closer to the ultimate dream, but began to understand that the one degree of separation percentage to the handful of famous people in the world was (slowly un) surprisingly low.

Our parents were right. Novelist Paolo Coelho nails it: “We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible. We grow up with this idea, and as the years accumulate, so too do the layers of prejudice, fear and guilt. There comes a time when our personal calling is so deeply buried in our soul as to be invisible. But know that it’s still there.” There comes a point when the first realisation hits that we are not going to be rich, famous, or desired by all. Then the second realisation; we might not even actually be above average in our career, financial disposition, or relationship.

It’s probable that a lot of us ignore these sparks of reality along the way until it hits us all at once and suddenly. In a philosophical paper written by the psychoanalyst Elliot Jaques in 1965, a hypothesis was made that a crisis occurs when a midlife adult begins to come to grips with mortality, realising that he or she won’t be able to fulfil all the dreams of youth. The notion was dubbed a midlife crisis”. As the concept began to evolve, it became associated with a host of other problems that become more noticeable during midlife, such as relationship difficulties, trouble with children, and career despair.


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