Discovering the True You in Midlife

Appearing first in 700 AD and found exclusively in Gaelic areas (i.e., Ireland and Scotland), a crannog is an artificial island built on a lake, mudbank or islet. Research indicates that, while some were permanently inhabited with people living in wooden huts, others were only used occasionally. One of the finest examples of an unearthed crannog is the Drumclay Crannog, located in County Fermanaugh, also known as Ireland’s Lake District.

What makes Drumclay  unique is the vast quantity of artifacts recovered (over 6,000 items) and their pristine condition, such as the River Erne Horn (pictured here). A huge part of that preservation was thanks  to the artifacts being submerged in fresh water, similar to the Vasa, a perfectly preserved 4,000 year old ship in Stockholm, Sweden. (If you are interested in reading more, check the links at the end of this post)

Like the crannog, as women in midlife we all have artifacts in the form of dreams, skills and talents that we’ve kept buried for years, just waiting patiently to be unearthed. These are gifts (some more developed than others) you had as a child or young adult, but discarded to pursue the more mundane responsibilities of raising a family, holding a job, or contributing to society.

We all have . . . dreams, skills and talents that we’ve kept buried for years #hiddentalents Click To Tweet

One famous example is Grandma Moses, who had painted as a child, but it wasn’t until her husband died that she returned to painting as a therapeutic release. Her talent, self-taught, was unearthed and rediscovered in her seventies. Thankfully she lived until 101 and produced over 1,500 works of art during that last phase of her life.

The burying process may have been deliberate (as with my mom, who knew in college she had gifts as an artist, but didn’t have time to pursue them due to marriage, motherhood, and teaching), or unconsciously abandoned because of a careless (or targeted) remark like “girls just don’t do that” ( so often heard by young women wanting to enter STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields years ago).

It is important in midlife transitioning to begin the systematic process of excavating your interests, dreams, skills and talents and examining them in a new light. Just like professional archaeologists, you need to inspect these aspects of yourself thoroughly and understand what it is that makes YOU unique and special. It’s a simple, straightforward process of discovery:

  • Create a simple three-column chart with the following labels: Release, Dreams, and Talents
  • In the Release column, think of all the things you are currently doing that either don’t interest you (perhaps they did in the past), you find boring, or you took on because it was the right thing to do. This may also include comments you heard, such as “girls don’t do that.” These are all things you’ll want to release so they can no longer hold you back.
  • Now you can have fun moving forward starting with the Dreams column. List all the crazy, half-baked, never-quite-had-time-for dreams you’ve ever thought about. Maybe it’s traveling abroad, perhaps it’s owning your own business, or what about working with animals (the furry kind!).
  • Under the Talents column, list all the skills, knowledge and experience you have. Again, have fun here. Think about what you enjoyed doing as a child, even if you only dabbled, and include them on your list. A hint – sometimes it helps to put all the known items about yourself first, then spend some time pondering the other ones that are buried deep beneath the layers of adulthood.
  • And then finally, once everything is listed, share your listing with a close friend. Maybe it’s a spouse who knows you well, or a best friend. Pick someone (or a few) who are non-judgmental. Ask them sincerely if they think you missed anything. Maybe it’s something you mentioned, but don’t remember.

ACTION: What’s stopping you from excavating the whole you? While it may be a little scary, realize there is so much that makes you who you are. And midlife (or earlier!) is the time for you to start making choices on where you want to focus your life going forward.

Links to read more about crannogs and the Vasa:

Kathy Hart, Ed.D. has a driving passion for human change and transformation. Her goal is to provide professional women with the support and resources needed to re-imagine and lead even more abundant, joy-filled and purpose-driven lives. If you are a woman wanting to reclaim your voice, realize a long-held dream, or just live your life to the fullest, take concrete action by contacting Kathy at kathy@clearvisionconsult.com. The choice is yours!

Services that Kathy offers:

  • 1:1 coaching to support the journey into your next life transition, whether work or personal
  • Trusted advisor for women navigating work changes and requiring an expert guide
  • Speaking and workshops on human change and transformation
  • Small group work and team development to boost the group’s performance