My mid-life crisis lessons: 6 traits you can get, with curiousity as your superpower

Ikram Al Mouaswas
4 min readSep 6, 2020

They say everyone goes through a mid-life crisis, tends to be ~late 30s to mid 50s. Some crises take weeks, some months, and some go through it for years. Some might never get out of it.

I think I went through mine [or one of!] in my early 30s. If I had to pinpoint it, I would say it started a few months into my 30s, and I came out of it at 34, with ups and downs in between.

When asked what a mid-life crisis really is, people describe it differently.

One description is, the moment you realize you achieved all you wanted, and you are faced with the scary “what now …”. You got the girl/guy you want, the friends you want, you earn good money, you have the job [or job title!] you want, the car, the house, the kids etc whatever you had on your list… then you are faced with having no ‘goals’. You spend your entire life studying, working hard, investing in your relationships, earning money, towards those goals, and then without even noticing, you are… goal-less, with no direction, ambition or destination to drive to.

Enter: mid-life crisis.

Another description: you spent your life building your armour, your protection from the world as you go through childhood, teenage years, school, work and others, and then the universe comes in at some point and says “yo listen, you’re [insert age: late 30s-mid 50s], there is no denying it you’re almost halfway to death, cool armour and all, but honestly it’s keeping you from the gifts I’ve given you. Time is up, you gotta let it go. It’s gonna be slow and brutal, but it’s keeping you from being the partner, professional, friend, human, you can be”.

Enter: mid-life crisis.

At 30, I related to both.

Now you have a choice. Face it, deny it, or keep living in it, stuck in your Pandora’s box, refusing to get out.

Me? Well… I kinda introduced myself to it, got to know it a bit, timidly welcomed it, then changed my mind and hid it in the attic for a bit, then eventually said: ok, bring it, let’s do this. I’m ready. Or, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

And [for the second time in my life!], I broke it all down – the armour, the assumptions, the old wiring of my brain. Fear came rushing in, a bit of self-hate, doubt, more fear, and that metaphoric light at the end of the tunnel – bopping in and out, some days closer, other days seeming impossibly far.

It was like CrossFit or spin class or yoga. First time, you walk into class, you feel awkward, stiff, looking at those fit bodies and flexibilities around you, thinking no way would I ever be able to do this. And that first time, ya you’re kinda right you’ll likely suck at it, your muscles are not used to moving this way, your posture has been set in the same way for so long … then after a few weeks of sweating, trying, falling and trying again, maybe some bruises, you go to class to one day, and you find yourself choosing the bike at the front of the class, helping the person next to you, looking at yourself in the mirror and liking those abs or that move…. Huh, this happened, I can do it.

This was exactly how it felt. A re wiring, breaking the original wires, feeling the stiffness and emptiness while my mind groped at what is coming, it was dark and scary. I was so alone in there.

And one day, I was walking down the street and felt, hey, it’s light again [pun intended], my mind… I think the wiring just reconnected. I can feel my mind clearing up, my heart open and kind, I can feel love and feel loved, I have room for others. Whoa. This is cool, why did it take me so many years to get here.

The wires worked, the machinery was maintained again.

And that armour? I learnt to replace it with curiosity. Curiousity is a superpower. What i learned, it is the key to all we need.

  • Humility? be curious to listen to others’ opinions – a quote I heard which stuck with me: everyone is interesting. If you are in a conversation and you are bored, it is your fault, not theirs.
  • Kindness? be curious to know what others are going thru or trying to do for you
  • Intellect? be curious to learn more
  • Improvement? be curious to understand where you can be better
  • Mindfulness? be curious to get to know your own mind, its workings and wirings

And, my favourite one

  • Vulnerability? be curious enough to put yourself in the open, to surrender to the unknown.

Brené Brown says, curiosity is a shit starter.

I guess you then have to ask yourself, do you have the courage to start some shit up, and shake up your own story?

I am very thankful I did.

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Ikram Al Mouaswas

Consultant by pay, writer by passion. Love listening to podcasts, books, and people. All about philosophy and psychology of life, happiness and humans.