HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: 'Generation X, stop fighting being Mid.'

Are my socks making me look old?

What about my hair? Is it parted in the wrong place? Are my jeans the wrong shape? Is my right shoe the wrong one, now?

Am I using the wrong emoji when I text? Should I not be using emojis at all? Should I even be texting? Is it all Voice Notes now? I thought we didn't talk on phones anymore, but now it's okay, as long as there's no-one at the other end?

Okay. Got it. Clearly, I got that wrong.

Everything about midlife is wrong.

If you are a woman, and you have crossed the Rubicon of 40, and are brazenly daring to still exist, it's very likely that you're getting it wrong.

Watch: Mamamia's brand new podcast hosted by Holly Wainwright, for Gen X women who are anything but. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

It's very likely that you don't look "young" enough, no matter how hard you try, with the serums and the needles and the exfoliation and the parting and the trainers.

You're definitely trying too hard, or not hard enough.

You're too loud, or you're too meek. You're too big, or too small. You're giving up, or you're hogging all the opportunities. You're too interfering, or too self-involved. You don't understand… anything.

You're Mid.

Average. Uninteresting. Hard to see. Hard to hear. Faded. Sad. Cute.


Except. Well, we're really not.

Midlife isn't the only life stage that women are not allowed to win at, of course. Young women are so problematic, what with their legs and bottoms and breasts which, somehow, they expect to be entitled to possess alongside opinions, ambition and free will.

Early motherhood is just one long exercise in Getting It Wrong. Pregnant women? So precious or so irresponsible. Mums? Just so entitled and greedy, wanting to have their caring work recognised as well also wanting actual jobs they get paid for. And those women who don't have children, by choice or circumstance? Such selfish rejectors of femininity.

But midlife. Midlife comes as a shock. Because all that wisdom we've accumulated, all the things lived through and with, suddenly all that counts for nothing. You're immediately invisible. Because it's all well and good, that perspective, that experience, that empathy you've earned. Because what the hell would you know? And what have you done to your face?

I am Mid. I am 52. Abundantly Mid. And I admit, I often worry about all of it. The staying relevant. The face. The socks, for God's sake.

Worry, along with the hormones, keeps a Mid up at night. The things I haven't done yet. The things I've done that I shouldn't have. I worry about my kids. About what kind of parent I am. About what kind of partner I am. What kind of employee. What kind of daughter, what kind of friend.

I worry about my parents. I worry about their health. And my health. And my friends' health. And my head. And their heads. I worry about money, and how the goalposts of enough are always shifting. I worry about the choices I've made and what kind of person they make me. I worry about the world, and how in so many ways everything appears to be getting worse. I worry about how brutal public discourse has become. About how shamelessly self-interested politics has become. About truth, and how it's no longer A Thing. About the horrors of war that a schoolgirl me imagined we would somehow evolve past but actually we now just get to observe up close, right after someone dancing with their dog.


All that worry is part of being Mid.

But so is caring, and the resilience that builds. So is a realigning of priorities. A confidence of knowing. A dark, glittering humour. An understanding that joy is hard-fought and worth recognising in all its big and small ways. A certain knowledge that the vast majority of people want to be kind. And a glorious, uncomplicated release of nonsense.

You know, on a good day.

I've spent the past couple of months talking to "Mid" women for a new Mamamia podcast. We named it Mid, despite the protests of those who thought it was too negative. "You see," they kept explaining to me, the young ones. "Mid is an insult."

Yes. I know, I would reply. That's the point. The muddled middle of anything is messy and complicated. But it's also where the good stuff lies.

The grown-up women I've been talking to are anything but Mid. They are wise and funny and tough. "F**king glorious," as my first guest says. Just like the grown-up women in my life.

Julie Goodwin (that sweary first guest) knows that there's no straight line between not fine and fine, after spending the past few years trying to learn how to live alongside the depression and anxiety that became almost unsurvivable in her middle years.


Listen to Mid's first episode with Julie Goodwin. Post continues after audio.

Catherine Mahoney, a decade on from divorce, knows that the midlife dating pool has wee in it.

Katherine May knows that Mid women burn out because we repeatedly ignore our own needs, or obscure them looking after everyone else's. And she knows that seeking out tiny slivers of peace, awe and beauty is the only salve.

Shanna Whan knows that Gen X women were sold a lie that there was an admirable equality in drinking until we fall, and that for some of us, it's a dangerous point of shame.

There are more, of course. More women, more wisdom, more LOLs. Over Season One's eight weeks there will be many conversations to challenge the idea that women in midlife are somehow dull, shrunken, defeated.

Please listen instead of swallowing the nonsense that wearing the same socks* as Gen Z will suddenly make them see us. It's better that they don't. They're not ready for all the things we know.

And we will have lived too long and seen too much to be silenced by our footwear.

Yes, that's the rallying cry I'm leaving you with.

You can subscribe to Holly's newsletter, here. Or buy her books, here.

And follow Mid By Mamamia on Instagram, here.

* Short but not too short. Long but not too long. Always visible. See what unending bulls**t trickery this is? 

Feature image: Supplied/Mamamia.

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