The midlife guide to… Janxiety

Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan
Janxiety - Getty Images


The inability to deal with going out at night because of a crippling fear of the hangover – a week of feeling like you’ve tripped down some terrible rabbit hole and you are falling, falling, trying to grab all the croissants on the way down. For others, it’s waking up the morning after with your soul passed out on the pillow next to you. It might never return to your body.


The terror that you will never ever be able to wriggle out of your body-shaping underwear. Or that bits of you will start popping out one end. Let’s face it, it all has to go somewhere. You feel like a vacuum-packed sausage.


Can you have bare legs? How much fake tan is too much fake tan? How wrong is a sunbed? You hate the claustrophobia of tights, but right now you could see your legs from space and not because they are a wonder of the world. Luminous. And not in a good way.


In January, one is supposed to feel somehow renewed. To have purpose (*shudders*). So why do you feel so rudderless and meaningless? As though you are living an imitation of a life?  Is this it? And if so, can you please have a refund?


Are you craving just a bit of… wait, what is it called again? Begins with an S. Ah yes, spontaneity. You know a little deviation from the list, some je ne sais what the hell? But not that thing… Too peopley. Or that thing… Too difficult to find  a parking space. Back to the list, then.


This is the fear of seeing your family. You are passionately on each other’s side, except when in the same room. Something strange happens when  you gather. Every single adult – whether they are 30 or 80 – turns into the worst kind of teenager: desperately seeking umbrage, judging furiously, sulking freely.  


You used to worry about other kinds of viruses. But now every unknown email or text may infect you or bankrupt you or steal your identity. So that’s relaxing.


You get a letter. Or a call. Or an email. An abnormal test result. A fluctuation.  A change. Come in for a scan. Oof. 


You haven’t done it for a while. Do you even remember how to do it? What even is it? Did you like it? How does it work? Oh God, you haven’t shaved, or waxed, please God let them be into forestry. 


The fear of the snaggle-tooth. The fear of the braces. Fear that all the night-time grinding and daytime gnashing means that you are one root canal away from financial ruin.


Who needs chocolate when you’ve got Parma ham and salami and streaky bacon, and all things pork and processed? Except deeply carcinogenic, they say. First cigarettes; now this. It’ll be alcohol next. What? Oh.