There is psychosocial theory regarding the eight stages of life that was developed by a guy named Erik Erikson. In a nutshell, a person is supposed to pass through these eight stages during a normal life cycle and handle the challenges that accompany each one.
I learned about these stages in my freshman year in college, otherwise known as my “identity vs. role confusion” stage of life. I remember reading about the stage that most 40-60 year-olds encounter, generativity vs. stagnation, and thinking how silly that sounded. I mean REALLY… worrying about being stagnant? Impossible.
Now that I’m over 40, I’ve decided that Erikson must have had a lot of time on his hands. In fact, Erikson must have had a doting wife or maid too because no one I know has time to think up theories like this one.
According to Erikson, I’m supposed to be nurturing things that will outlast me. This is true – I have three children who will, God willing, be around longer than myself. However, ol’ Erikson and I go our separate ways when it comes to the stagnation part. Instead, I think that this stage should be “generativity vs. survival”.
There are a gazillion things that need to be done each day, from the most basic such as making meals and doing laundry, to dealing with teachers and going to work. While I would like to say that I am building schools in third world countries and making a difference in the world in that way, the truth is that I’m not. I’m just keeping up with what I’ve got going on at home.
Erikson goes on to say that people go through mid-life crises when they look at the world around them and see that they haven’t “made a mark”. Seems to me that there are quite a few mid-life crises just waiting to happen.
Talk to me in 10 years and we’ll see if I’ve made a mark on society like Erikson proposed. No, make that 15 years. In 10 years I’ll have another teenager. Lord help.
There’s another psychosocial theory that I do agree with wholeheartedly. Developed by a psychologist named Abraham Maslow, it’s referred to as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”. Here’s a visual for you:
This theory states that if a person’s physiological, safety, self-esteem and love needs are being met then he or she is able to go on to being creative and reaching higher levels of humanity.
Amen, Dr. Maslow. This is exactly why I drink coffee every morning.