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