Seeking Inspiration from Adolescence during Midlife

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Rishi Khanna currently manages investments for his family office. He is also managing director of the Trimaster Group. Prior to this, from 1998 onwards, Rishi was managing director of C&S Electric Limited, which was acquired by Siemens in February 2021.

Of late, Rishi has been involved in unlisted space investments, including angel-stage investments. He is also an active member of the YPO’s Delhi chapter.

Below are six themes to navigate midlife – inspired either by reflecting on one’s experience of adolescence or observing that of one’s children. Navigating midlife can often be likened to a ship caught in a storm. The waves of societal expectations, internal doubts, and the undeniable physical signs of ageing can make this phase tumultuous. Yet, we can all tap into a phase in our lives that might just hold the secrets to steering this ship – adolescence.

It might sound counterintuitive, but think again.


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Adolescence is a time of exploration, discovery, raw emotion, and growth. Seeking inspiration from this stage can offer a fresh perspective on managing midlife. Here are six themes to consider. There could be many more if we let our imagination have a run and tap into this often neglected but vast reservoir of experience we’ve all had!

  1. Rediscovering passion
    Adolescence is characterised by a pursuit of passion, be it in music, art, literature, or even love. At this age, we’re not held back by societal norms or fears of failure. Midlifers can reignite their dormant passions or discover new ones. This could mean picking up a forgotten musical instrument, starting a late-night book club, or even backpacking through the country.
  2. Embracing change
    Teens are constantly evolving – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Their bodies are in flux, their beliefs are forming, and their personalities are taking shape. Midlife, too, brings significant changes, but with a twist. It’s more about accepting the inevitable changes and adapting. Taking a cue from our teenage selves, one can learn to welcome change, using it as a tool for self-improvement rather than resisting it.
  3. Rekindling Friendships
    The friendships of our teenage years were intense, filled with late-night chats, shared dreams, and sometimes, shared heartbreaks. With the hustle of adulthood, these connections often get lost. Midlife offers a chance to reconnect with old friends or make new ones, rekindling the simple joys of shared experiences and mutual support.
  4. Questioning and Curiosity
    Adolescents are notorious for their “why” questions. Everything is a discovery, every rule is meant to be questioned, and every boundary tested. While midlife might bring a sense of settled routines, it’s the perfect time to channel that teenage curiosity. Whether taking up a new course, exploring a different culture, or being inquisitive about the world, the adolescent spirit of wonder can bring a fresh lease of life.
  5. Unbridled Emotion
    Remember the raw emotions of the teenage years? The highs were ecstatic, and the lows were the end of the world. With age, emotions often get tempered, which also means we sometimes suppress genuine feelings. Midlife can be the time to let these feelings flow, be it the euphoria of achievements or the catharsis of a good cry. It’s therapeutic and very human.
  6. Rebellion with a Cause
    Teenage rebellion isn’t just about defying authority; it’s about carving an identity. Similarly, midlife isn’t about accepting a stereotypical “crisis” narrative. It’s about rebelling against age-defined roles or societal expectations and redefining oneself. It could mean changing career paths, taking up activism, or simply breaking free from routines that no longer serve a purpose.

Adolescence and midlife, though seemingly poles apart are transitional stages marked by self-discovery, growth, and evolution. By looking back at our adolescent years or observing the youth around us, we can glean insights that make navigating midlife not just bearable but also joyous and fulfilling.

Think about it. Discuss it with your kids or other young friends. It’s helped me tremendously, so give it a shot!

Illustration by Leena Swamy

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