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Don't Wait.

Our lives are broken up into different stages and studied, both psychologically and biologically. Psychologist Erik Erikson defines each stage of life with a different psychosocial task. During these stages, we battle different tasks.

 

His tasks are as follows:

Infancy- trust versus mistrust

Toddlerhood- autonomy versus shame and doubt

Early Childhood- initiative versus guilt

Middle Childhood-Industry versus inferiority

Adolescence- identity versus role confusion

Emerging Adulthood- intimacy versus isolation

Midlife- generativity versus stagnation

Older Adulthood- integrity versus despair

 

The last eight weeks I have been in a psychology class at Oakland University. This class has taught me much, not only about the subject, but about life. My favorite aspect of the course was learning these tasks by Erikson, because of the relatability. My favorite stage to study was midlife, let's spend a few minutes talking about it.

 

Midlife defined is people who are usually between forty and sixty-five. During this midlife stage, a person goes through many different changes. Erikson, though, focuses on their battle between generativity and despair.

Generativity is where people find the most meaning in caring for others, helping the next generation, and enriching the lives of other people over themselves. When generativity is not accomplished, the person goes through the feeling of stagnation, or without any purpose in life. We understand these psychosocial tasks because of Erikson, but the research did not stop there.

A later psychologist, McAdams, did scientific research on the psychological task of generativity. Based on a study utilizing a questionnaire filled in by different age groups, researchers discovered that no matter what age, people basically had the same generative attitudes. The difference between ages was actually priorities. People in midlife prioritize generativity much higher than young people. They go out of their way to care about and help others, while young people desire to help without acting upon it.

 

I’ve never been in my midlife stage, but while I was learning about this I couldn’t help but be saddened by the fact that, scientifically, the majority of people wait until their midlife to act upon generativity. We wait until we’ve gotten most of what we want out of life before we help others. Once people in midlife find this generativity, they finally feel as if they have purpose. After going through, and hopefully accomplishing the previous six psychosocial tasks, midlife adults arrive at the pivotal point:

make a difference by helping others or be stagnant.
 

There were two main similarities that people who accomplish generativity have: commitment script and redemption sequence.

A commitment script is basically an experience the adult has had in their life that harvested the feelings of being special. These people understand that every breath is valuable, they understand the gift of life. This understanding helps them empathize with others. Next, a redemption sequence is where this person has had a tragic event and turned it around for good. These events could be anything negative that impacted their life, but instead of letting the negative take over, they use it to help someone else and turn it around for the better.

 

Although I'm sure this has sounded like reading material for most of you, studying generativity challenges me and I hope to challenge you too.


Are you waiting for your generativity stage or are you going out and making meaningful life right now? What is your commitment script? What is your redemption sequence? What are you doing in life today to make a difference?

Share your stories & experiences, they could encourage someone else to keep going.

 

My challenge to you is to consider this, consider your actions and where you spend your time, consider if it is truly worth waiting for a generativity stage or if you should go out and make life meaningful now.


Grace and peace,

Evelyn

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