A new me or an upgraded version?



Isn’t it interesting how you can read a post and all the accompanying comments and get a real feel for people and their situation?  I love blogging for that very reason. Since retiring I have made contact with many other middle aged bloggers who are in much the same boat as I am.  It’s been enlightening and so encouraging to read their stories and follow their ‘new’ lives.

So thanks to Donna Joanne  and Kate I am now re-looking at myself, in my new guise of ‘retiree’.  They have all written really interesting and insightful posts recently about how they have, or haven’t changed, since retiring.  I did write a post a few months ago about how retirement had surprised me in many ways.  Surprisingly there is a life after retirement but it was mainly from the perspective of what I was now able to do, not how I felt I had changed.

The posts and comments from other bloggers to their posts were so interesting and positive, it got me thinking – have I changed since I finished work and if so how? I don’t think they’ll mind if I join them in their introspection.

Donna reflects in her post:

It wasn’t that I am now the exact same me. Rather, I am more ‘me’ than I have ever been before. My career robes have been removed taking with them many expectations that had been placed upon me (a large number of them self-imposed)! I no longer need to be so acutely focused on a specific area. I’m less worried about disappointing others. This, in turn, has allowed me to be more open, less guarded and has given me additional time and freedom to…well…be ‘me’!

I could have written this exact same comment!!

It’s coming up to a year since my colleagues and I first heard that we would be replaced by clerical staff in our Education roles, within a state run correctional centre for males. It hits me sometimes, this time last year I had no idea that in a year’s time I would be out of a job and enjoying a retirement that wasn’t supposed to happen for another few years.  I was blissfully unaware of how my life, and hundreds of others, would change.  Life is funny sometimes isn’t it?

The time between May and December last year was particularly hard, as the department went through the process of sorting out their plans, and we fought them tooth and nail all the way trying to save our jobs.  I’ve written about all this before so I won’t go over it again, suffice to say I made myself sick with worry, gained weight and lost interest in lots of things for quite some time. I wasn’t at all ‘me’!


So how have things changed since I was made redundant late last year, at the tender age of 56?

Before:

  • I never set out to work in a correctional centre, it just happened one day, 22 years ago, when someone had faith in my talents and offered me a job.
  • At age 40 I undertook a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocational Education and Training by distance education while working full-time and raising 3 teenage daughters with my husband.
  • I was a manager to a creative, passionate and enthusiastic group of professional teachers.
  • I was passionate about educating inmates to improve their lives after their release.
  • I was in a managerial role, sat in on management meetings and my opinion was generally accepted and valued.  Although I became well known for challenging some opinions and directions I continually stuck to my guns and spoke my mind.  I was determined not to be a doormat. I didn’t have a lot of support from other managers at times and had to fight hard to have my voice heard in a very male dominated environment.
  • I walked very fast around the centre with my shoes going clickety-clack.  People could hear me coming a mile off.
  • I thought I smiled a lot but often would be told I had a frown on my face or I was asked what was upsetting me due to the look on my face.  It doesn’t hide a thing, my face, it shows every little thought right there on my dial!
  • I got upset very quickly, took issues to heart and quite often I took things way too personally. I wore my heart on my sleeve.  I’m proud that I was able to keep my compassionate nature right until the end.
  • I was a quick thinker, solving issues in my head while talking with others.  I was efficient with my computer skills, often required to teach others, and always very happy to do so.
  • I had to contend with a lot of toxic people, with ideas and values miles away from my own thinking. Gossips, rumour mongers, nasty people with their own agendas in a small place can make life very difficult.

When I read through this list it doesn’t make it sound like much fun but it was a great career with some delightful colleagues who are now friends for life.  They supported me through the hard times just as I supported them whenever I could.  Our little section made our own fun and laughed so much at times inmates asked what drugs we were on!

Now:

As the others have said in their posts the biggest change has been the freedom.

  • I now mix with only the people I want to be with.
  • I laugh a lot more, I’m happy and healthy and my face shows it.
  • I’ve always been open and excitable but now I’m buzzing with froth and joy at being able to do the things I’m doing, when I want to do them and the way I want to do them.
  • I wear different clothes – I’m much freer in that area too.  I used to feel so buttoned up, straight laced and professional that it took away my true personality.  I actually started this blog in the first place to be able to express my creativity, my quirkiness and my enthusiastic nature. I’m into relaxed, casual clothing now and have removed most of my old ‘work’ clothes from my wardrobe.
  • I don’t walk as quickly anymore and I certainly don’t wear clickety-clack shoes.
  • Toxic people don’t get a look in, I don’t have arguments or feel I have to prove myself either. I’m true to myself.
  • I have time now to run, walk, cycle and shop in the daytime hours, no longer relegated to the after work hours or at the crack of dawn.

So to me it’s all about the freedom to be a ‘new’ me – or maybe not so new, just an upgraded version. I didn’t realise how much I let my work define me and how much I let things get under my skin. Until I left that is.  Now I am less restrained, happier and more confident in myself.  I’m not having to prove anything to anyone or project an image of a professional educator, or fight work related battles, and it feels good!!

I sill enjoy ‘weekends’ but often have to stop and think what day it is during the week.  I forget that not everyone is on ‘holidays’ with me and often make insensitive comments about gong to work.

I think I’ve morphed into a softer version of ‘me’ and I must say I like this newer updated model.  These changes haven’t happened overnight, slowly but surely I’ve found I have more time to listen, to talk, to take things in and make decisions.  I’ve got time for my family and time for my creative side to shine through in my photos and my blogs. I’m also starting cross-stitching again, something I haven’t done in years.  I’ve got time to give to my Rotary Club and the community and time to travel with my husband. I’m a middle-aged wanderlusting traveller when all’s said and done!

So there you have it, my thoughts to add to the discussion started by Donna, Joanne and Kate.  I’m sure there are many more stories out there about the changes people have seen and felt after finishing work and moving onto the next stage of their lives.

Feel free to leave me a comment with your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.

Deb 🙂

Sarah, me and Eliza

Looking happy with two of my daughters

PS. You can also find Deb’s World here – I’d be delighted if you’d join me.

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Categories: ageing, blogging, challenges, education, life, redundancy, Retirement, Travel, work, writingTags: , , , ,

51 comments

  1. Your first item of the new you says a lot. “I now mix with only the people I want to be with.” That makes such a huge difference. No constant conflict or eggshell walking. Don’t miss any of that and I try to keep it out of my life now. Once that happened, a lot of stuff just fell in place. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It sounds that although initially the hurt of being forced out has been replaced with such a happy, healthy new chapter. I think it’s wonderful that you feel more like yourself and that you find a smile on your face more often. That says a great deal. Congrats to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Each one of your points resonated with me. You’ve hit the ground running in this new lifestyle and it seems to fit you very well. How lucky are we?!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Lovely post, and you’ve given me an idea of some new blog posts. We retired of sorts, ten years ago – but I was already out of my profession of RN, and had become a full-time writer. So I just carried on writing, attended two overseas writers conferences (USA – I’m in S.Africa) and became a published author. Now I’m asking myself when do I retire or at least slow down from writing? When do I create more “me” time? X is for the X factor as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. When my daughter was aged 11 she was asked in school what she wanted to be in adult life. Her reply was, ‘retired’ and when the teacher asked her to explain this she answered, ‘My Granny is retired. She paints, takes long walks, always has time for me, she cooks and she laughs a lot so that’s what I want to be’.At her parents evening the same teacher told me that I should be proud of my daughter because she already knew what really mattered in life. It also meant that retirement held no fears for me, challenges for sure, but slowly over the last five years I, too, have found the essence of myself again and couldn’t be more content. Carry on enjoying every day!

    Liked by 5 people

    • That is a beautiful story, thanks so much for sharing it. Retirement has its challenges and I’m glad to hear you have slowly found the essence of yourself again. Lovely to hear from you 🙂

      Like

  6. That’s a gorgeous photo of you – and you certainly sell retirement as five stars! I’m a little envious of those who don’t have to do the 9-5 grind anymore. I’m down to three days a week in a job I actually quite like, but it does come with a bucket load of stressors that I hadn’t anticipated and will be happy to leave behind one day. Meanwhile I have my other four days to do the things I love but I could easily fill the whole week. I’m happy to transition slowly into retirement but I do confess to a little bit of wistfulness when I read your post 🙂
    Leanne | cresting the hill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes Leanne, I think I would have preferred the slow transition but instead it was all quite fraught. I’m glad you enjoyed my post and I’m a good seller of the whole thing now. I love that photo of me with 2 of my girls – I feel it shows me as truly happy.

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  7. All I know is I am giddy watching this space because your posts are coming thick and fast. You keeping changing your header – I thought the new blue one looked good but it has disappeared. I think. I get told to smile at work because I have a worried look sometimes. Lovely photo of you and the girls. Deb.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Louise, yes I’ve been very busy but it will slow down don’t worry. I’d hate for you to get too giddy! As to my header, it is a revolving one from photos I’ve set up, so changes regularly. I love that pic too 🙂 I know the worried look too well, but not so much these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Debbie – Thank you for adding to this conversation. I love your NOW bullet points…and believe this is a very inspirational list for all retirees and others who are soon-to-be!
    BTW – I am impressed that you have already removed most of your career clothes from your closet. I haven’t been as successful with that yet…but am trying!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure to get involved Donna, I hope you don’t mind me jumping in! I’m glad you like my dot points too, it’s something I’ve thought about often but your post made me write them all down. Thanks again for your support and encouragement, it’s really helped me settle in 🙂

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  9. You certainly look happy in that photo, positivley beaming in fact! There is a lot to be said for being able to wear clothes that you feel comfortable in rather than being ‘buttoned up.’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds as if an early retirement suits you very well – though you look to young to even know the word ‘retire’ 🙂 You sound (and look) happy, and positive, and fun – all those ‘good’ words which we don’t necessarily hear when we are in career. Enjoy what you have now, because it sounds to me as if this new career is ‘you’ 🙂

    I am also in forced retirement, at 60, because of health issues last year. I have a year’s refreshment leave (in other words, get out of here and don’t come back until you can do the job you are paid for, plus 1000 extra jobs we give you). But I am enjoying every minute and won’t be going back to teaching. I love the freedom to cook and bake when I want to, to meet with friends, to do needlework the whole day, to ride my bike, to get healthy. I feel relaxed. I am not the me I want to be again, but I am well on my way being me again

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really appreciate your great comment and am glad you are starting to feel like yourself again slowly. It is hard being forced out as I felt unvalued and unwanted after giving so much of myself for so long. I smiled at your comment about me not looking old enough to be retired, I certainly don’t feel old enough 🙂 I’m having fun and that’s what counts – like you the freedom is much loved. Thanks again for stopping by and joining in the conversation.

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  11. I went through a similar experience of being laid off from a job I enjoyed a little over a year ago. I wanted to retire in the worst way but the expense of health insurance lured me back to the work place. Alas Obamacare was cost prohibitive for me and in the state of Maine there were very few options. So I reluctantly polished up my resume and took a new job and I’m grateful for my job, though I can hardly wait to experience what you write about in this post! I feel certain I will thrive in the same ways you are thriving with time to exercise, express my creativity unfettered and the chance to become more ‘me.’ Thank you for making me green with envy, Deb!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I can totally relate, Deb!!
    It’s nice to have time for yourself and the things you like to do.
    Although—I still love my clickety-clack shoes, LOL!
    Jodie

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I was recently laid off and while retirement isn’t an option for me (I still have children who have to go to college), it has given me the opportunity to reflect on many of the things you shared. I think any opportunity (whether by choice or not) to re-evaluate one’s life and make changes for the better is truly a gift. It’s hard to see it that way sometimes, especially in my situation, but it is. Thanks for sharing your experience and reflections. I enjoyed reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right Robin, it’s a time to reflect and luckily I’m in a better place than I ever expected to be. I know I’m lucky to be in the position I’m in financially and I do truly appreciate it. It was hard at first to get my head around it all, but now I’m so happy with my life it’s almost sickening :). I’m sorry to hear about your experiences and I hope you can find something that suits you and is good for you and your family. Take it easy!!

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  14. I LOVE this post! I know I am much freer to be myself since not teaching middle school (SO NOT MY CUP OF TEA!), and am so grateful I work with adults only now! I look forward to complete freedom someday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is worth all the hard work as I get to truly appreciate the freedom now. Thanks for your lovley comment and it’s always good to realise what we don’t like doing and try to move on. Adult teaching doesn’t suit everyone so I’m glad to hear you are grateful for that change. Keep on going!!

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  15. Sounds like you made amazing impacts in so many ways!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. My workplace has become so toxic lately and I get queasy just walking in the door every day. A close coworker got fired on Friday and now that has me really on edge. Sounds like I could use something like the situation you’re in now. Wish I could just walk away and start my retirement now…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. What a lovely, reflective post!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is your reward. You now get to do what you want to do and what you like to do. Thank you for attending the #WednesdayAIMLinkParty. I shared your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. What a great way to take stock. Both “versions” of you sound pretty great and what an incredible work place. It sounds like it offered so many opportunities and challenges, until of course, it didn’t. Now you create your own opportunities and so far so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Glad to hear it’s going well for you. My mum loves her retirement and freedom!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I like the idea of an “upgraded” you…and an upgraded me, too! It’s a good way to look at the changes that come as we age. We let go of some things, but what we get in return is more than worth it. Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. My situation is similar, downsized a few years (10) before retirement was on the horizon after 25 years with my company. I’m taking it one day at a time right now, trying to figure out what fits best. But now that it’s done, it felt like the right thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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