Thankful for a Midlife Crisis

It is Thanksgiving!  For most it is a time to be with family and friends.  This is also a time that we share memories of good times and bad times, memories of the people we have lost or have impacted our lives in some way.  It is also a time that we reflect on all that we are grateful for in our lives.  The last two years have gone really fast.  I am about three weeks from completing my second year of the Master’s of Health Informatics program through the University of Illinois at Chicago.  I have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  Of course I am grateful for all of my friends, my family, and my co-workers for all of the love, support, guidance, and friendship they have all given to me.  I am thankful to be relatively healthy.  I am extremely grateful for the educational and professional opportunities that have opened up for me during this past year.  Many changes have occurred over last two years.  I am extremely thankful, yet I feel that is appropriate to step back, take a deep breath, reflect on those changes, and be proud what I have accomplished so far.

Like a fish swimming in a fishbowl

Have you ever watched a fish swimming around in a fishbowl?  Did you think of how lucky that fish was, to be able to spend all day leisurely swimming around without a worry, responsibility, or a care in the world?  Have you ever thought that maybe that fish felt like he was trapped by the fishbowl, longing to escape?  I am not sure when it happened, how it happened, or even why it happened, but one day I decided that I had had enough.  I wanted out.  The profession that I had been so excited to join 20 years ago was now sucking the life out of me.  I began feeling like that fish drowning in a fishbowl and longing for an escape.  The world around me was changing yet I felt stagnant and trapped, swimming in circles yet getting nowhere.

The last thing that I would have expected to happen was that someday I would view my job as nothing more than a paycheck, just a means to pay the bills, but it happened.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have absolutely no regrets about my professional choices or the experience I have had; but I had been on front lines of nursing for 20 years.  I had always loved my patients, enjoyed going that extra step for them, but I began feeling my empathy turn to apathy, and my joys turn to resentment.  I would have chest pains just thinking about the fact that I was only approaching 40 years old, and unless I won the lotto or married into wealth, I was stuck until retirement or death, which ever came first.

My midlife crisis seemed to set during this time.  I was disenchanted with my profession, and even more discontented with my personal life.  While my high school friends were becoming grandmothers, and my nursing school classmates were stepping up the ranks of management or becoming educators, I was still on the front lines, and freaking out about my biological clock.  I found myself to be in a perpetual state of anger, becoming reactionary and quick to lash out.  I was becoming a person that I did not want to be.  During the week of my 40th birthday I cried for 7 days straight.  A friend asked me why I was so down.  My reply, “I hate my job, hate my life, and feel like a failure.”  My friend very calmly said, “Are you going to spend the rest of your life crying about it, or are you going to do something about it?”

Barriers, Resistance, and Challenges

In health informatics, the concepts of barriers, resistance, and challenges are often frequently associated with change.  These will also be concepts that will be brought up in just about every class in the Master’s of Health Informatics Program.  The perception of barriers, resistance and challenges also holds true when deciding to attend grad school, or when making any life changing decisions.  My own personal barriers and resistance can be contributed to three main issues: the fear of failure, financial constraints, and APA format.  My biggest challenges: focus and time management.

This seems to be a good place to leave you hanging, and a good place for me to pick up at on my next blog entry.  Now, it is time to turn of the computer, and enjoy a good dinner and the company of some great friends.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

About the author


Dusty Brinson

Dusty Brinson is a Masters student at University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) Online Health Informatics Program. Dusty is also a registered nurse, working full time as a Manager of Patient Care Operations of the Emergency Care Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.