Why midlifers love to lead double lives

Annabel Rivkin and Emilie McMeekan
Midults: 'We can display actively opposing qualities. And it’s OK to be all these strange and contradictory things' - Getty Images

We are all more than one woman, right? But it’s not as simple as being many things at once. We can display actively opposing qualities. And it’s OK to be all these strange and contradictory things. Sometimes you just need to be kind to the hero and zero in your personality. Because neither is going anywhere.

  1. A masterpiece and a work in progress - You’re magnificent. Such wisdom. Not to mention original-so-original. ‘The thing about [insert name] is…’ people say, followed by your standout qualities. And yet you’re also a bit, hmmm, rough around the edges. Reactive, perhaps. Envious, maybe. Petty, occasionally. Rageful, often. You wax and wane like (and sometimes with) the moon. 
  2. In control and a mess - Just look at you parallel parking while taking a conference call and turning the oven on, thanks to your new-fangled app thing. Can this be the same person who jarred their back stepping off the pavement and now can’t get into the shower, and is relying on baby wipes and dry shampoo and the hope that everyone is too busy to notice the white residue on your scalp? Of course it can. 
  3. Empathetic and ruthless - It’s as though you have no skin. You feel their pain as they talk you through the latest tribulation. How confusing. How frustrating. How upsetting. You care, you get it. Or maybe you don’t. Not now, not today. You couldn’t care less. You think they should pull themselves together because it’s all a bit much. And then they cry and you cry and you’re breathless with sympathy and… oh God, this reminds you of the time that…
  4. Amusing and dull - You’re hilarious and you have such an unusual yet incisive take on that thing and everyone is laughing and this is great. Until everything you say is slightly wrong and you seem to be talking people through your train times and explaining how real ale is brewed, and suddenly you notice that nobody is asking you any open-ended questions.
  5. Innumerate and Stephen Hawking - Judging by your overdraft, you are struggling with the most basic of economic principles – you mustn’t spend what you do not have. Nothing adds up. And when you have to cut the right amount of butter, even with those helpful 50g lines? Well, it’s a struggle. BUT then someone asks you about timings of the Gatwick Express and exchange rates, and suddenly you are Stephen Hawking. For a brief moment, the equations of the universe are at your fingertips. Unless you overthink it…
  6. Mother Teresa and Teresa May* (*The porn star, not the Prime Minister) - Which would you rather? Have sex every night for a year (oof) or never again? The answer rather depends on the day. Sometimes very vampishly the former, and other times very emphatically the latter. No one should ever assume anything about the state of your underwear, your libido or your peccadilloes. They are ever-shifting sands.
  7. An expert and an impostor - Of course you can take the meeting, of course you can run the workshop,  of course you can deliver a TED Talk, negotiate a pay rise, and strategise a five-year plan that will transform the fortunes of everyone involved. But can you, though? The last presentation was a bit meh, wasn’t it? And that thing you said at the brainstorm? It wasn’t very sharp, was it? Pretty basic stuff really.
  8. Lonely and claustrophobic - Gosh, you feel lonely. Too much time isolating on the sofa and watching repeats on telly. Or listening to the A Star Is Born soundtrack and ugly-crying. And yet, the phone rings and it’s WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST LEAVE ME ALONE?

I’m Absolutely Fine! A Manual for Imperfect Women, by The Midults, is out now (Cassell, £16.99); themidult.com