Midlife crisis…want to join me? - Kathy Varol

Midlife crisis…want to join me?


Half of my life has been spent in a midlife crisis.

It started when I was 22, serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco and witnessing extreme poverty for the first time. Since then I have been on a quest to make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Half of a lifetime is a long time to be searching for anything.

But the truth is, the passions most dear to our hearts are worth dedicating multiple lifetimes to.

With any significant impact on the world, the journey is almost never a sprint. Nor is it a marathon. It’s a relay. True change is a team sport. It requires collaboration, not only during one moment in time but often across lifetimes.

Through my own midlife crisis, I have been trying to understand how to support the race for equality.

While ability is on a normalized distribution curve, opportunity is not. The game of life is rigged.

There are people who get dealt a great hand and there are those that get a losing hand. This initial hand has nothing to do with merit or talent. The unlucky hand comes in many forms, but one commonality is that the unlucky are all humans that are pushed to the margins and treated as the “other.”

Females born in so many countries where their destiny is entirely out of their hands, LGBTQ, ethnic and religious minorities, refugees, and the poor are often the unlucky marginalized groups.

As Melinda Gates says in The Moment of Lift, “we’re often not honest about what’s happening. If we’re on the inside and see someone on the outside, we often say to ourselves, I’m not in that situation because I’m different. But that’s just pride talking. We could easily be that person. Anyone can be made to feel like an outsider.”

The accumulation of past societal choices have led us to this point in time.

The disparity between the “haves” and the “have nots” has never been wider. You can smell the fear of dethronement permeating every board room dominated by old white men. You can see the current system reinforced as each new open seat of power is filled with a “copy + paste” replica of the old white-straight-cis-gendered man who left.

But we don’t have to stay the course.

We can create a new future. An intentional future. A future based on the values of equality.

Every one of us has felt the sting of inequality. Been the outcast. Felt the desire to belong.

These emotions are human. They are incredibly powerful because they tap into our DNA as social creatures—our longing for community and belonging. The deeply personal memory of these emotions are a powerful tool to reconnect to our humanity and our empathy. They bond us together and highlight the very personal injustice of inequality.

Those with power will continue to chart the course of humanity.

We can start seeing each other—truly seeing each other—as equals that deserve a chance at a healthy, happy and safe life. A life with dignity, respect, and compassion for each other. Or, we can hoard our power in fear, rushing farther away from connection and community in a misguided effort that strengthens our cages of isolation.

We have a choice.

Put that way, the choice seems pretty easy.

While the path is complex, like any relay, you start one step at a time.

We create change person by person. Then collectively, the tipping point happens to create systemic change.

The time is now. Join the relay.

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