Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis
I feel like I’m a bit young to be reading about women having midlife crises, but I took a chance on it, primarily because I trusted my friend who recommended it, who happens to be several years younger than me. I found this book completely fascinating and far too relatable. In separate chapters, Calhoun examines many of these issues individually, like finding work, caregiving, job instability, money panic, choosing a single life, or a childless life, or not choosing to be single and childless yet finding that's your reality, and then divorce, perimenopause, the comparison trap—if you're getting the picture, you can see it's not easy stuff. It was a lot of information, and a lot of it was pretty depressing, but it was also engrossing, and unexpectedly reassuring. I laughed the laugh of recognition when Calhoun writes, "Oddly, knowing that I have every reason in the world to be freaking out has made me much more relaxed."
A generation-defining exploration of the new midlife crisis facing Gen X women and the unique circumstances that have brought them to this point, Why We Can’t Sleep is a lively successor to Passages by Gail Sheehy and The Defining Decade by Meg Jay
When Ada Calhoun found herself in the throes of a midlife crisis, she thought that she had no right to complain. She was married with children and a good career. So why did she feel miserable? And why did it seem that other Generation X women were miserable, too?
Calhoun decided to find some answers. She looked into housing costs, HR trends, credit card debt averages, and divorce data. At every turn, she saw a pattern: sandwiched between the Boomers and the Millennials, Gen X women were facing new problems as they entered middle age, problems that were being largely overlooked.
Speaking with women across America about their experiences as the generation raised to “have it all,” Calhoun found that most were exhausted, terrified about money, under-employed, and overwhelmed. Instead of being heard, they were told instead to lean in, take “me-time,” or make a chore chart to get their lives and homes in order.
In Why We Can’t Sleep, Calhoun opens up the cultural and political contexts of Gen X’s predicament and offers solutions for how to pull oneself out of the abyss―and keep the next generation of women from falling in. The result is reassuring, empowering, and essential reading for all middle-aged women, and anyone who hopes to understand them.