Who are you when you retire?
Last year I opted to quit work rather than continue jumping though wagon wheel hoops. I’m fortunate to be in the position that I don’t have to earn a ton of money to live. A year later, I’m realizing it’s a blessing – and a curse. Who are you if you retire?
While I don’t need to make a lot of money to live, I DO need a purpose, a sense of self. Not a “save the world” purpose, but personal achievement, personal growth, kind of purpose. The longer I’m retired, the more I realize how important it is to continue to explore, learn, and challenge myself. Some income would be good, too. Don’t get me wrong. But, the self-image/self-respect – “who am I” thing is weighing on me.
Those of us, especially women, over 60 came of age at a time when women began to believe they could do and be whatever they wanted. Our dreams were about careers and promotions as much as husbands and babies (if not more). Many of us matured and celebrated ourselves for professional accomplishments more than genealogical. For those of us without children, (and without enlightenment) our career/job is a huge part of our personal identity. Of course, I can only speak for myself with certainty, but I don’t think I’m alone.
Who are if you retire?
Without a job – who am I? Not Lynnelle, the business owner; Lynnelle the International Cash Management specialist… then who? Lynnelle, the over-60, retired woman. Whaaaaat? It’s been a year and I’ve gone from the over-60, retired woman to the over-61, retired woman and I still can’t wrap my head around it. Even though that’s exactly what I am.
So, before retiring (quitting) should I have prepared for it? Not prepare financially; that’s a given. I’m talking about preparing emotionally; psychologically. I didn’t. Not because I didn’t think I needed to, but because I just didn’t think about it at all. I just said “no” and I quit.
In hindsight, I don’t think it would have done much good to plan for retirement. I don’t think you can plan for retirement psychologically any more than you can plan for children. You can try; you can read books, talk to others who have walked the path before you, envision what you want for your new life, etc. But, like most major events – you don’t know what it’s like until you experience it for yourself.
The Who, not What Paradigm.
So here I am. Trying to make myself feel ok about not planning for the emotional gray-zone I find myself in today. When I was working, I was ok being Lynnelle, the business owner; Lynnelle the ICM specialist. It was what I was. It was also WHO I was, or so I thought. Now I’m Lynnelle, the over 61, retired woman. It’s what I am – but not WHO I am. So – WHO am??? Then I figured it out. WHAT Lynnelle is has changed (and changed and changed and….changed) over the years, but the WHO Lynnelle is hasn’t. I’m the same curious, self-competitive, stubborn, challenging, adventurous (moderately so), female I’ve always been.
Why does it seem more meaningful to be a curious, self-competitive, stubborn, challenging, adventurous (moderately so), female business owner or ICM specialist than a curious, self-competitive, stubborn, challenging, adventurous (moderately so), retired female? I call bullshit. That paradigm needs shifting. If you discovered a lifehack for a similar personal evolution, please send it my way. Until then, I’ll take it one affirmation after affirmation. Stay true to you.