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Thursday, September 5, 2013

What do you do?






Remember when you used to be at parties and you were introduced, and the next question was, what do you do, or where do you work? Work was your identity. Almost your whole identity. People who did the same thing usually hung out together, shared tidbits outside of work, participated in hobbies, birthday parties, office parties, sports and trips together.

Your work defined you in your working life, but your hobbies will define you in your retirement years.  Do you golf? Play canasta? Paint? Write? Garden? Each group you'll meet will ask you to join them based on your hobby or outside-home interests. Forget all the other accomplishments and kudos you garnered in your working life. If you don't golf, you'll never meet that couple who moved right next door to you spending six months each year chasing golf balls in your backyard.

The biggest challenge you'll face after work, is figuring out what to do with your time.

Working defined your very being; identified your pace; sent you out to read materials and supplementary literature related to your work experience; brought you together with folks; provided a sense of accomplishment and a sense of purpose to your days; and became your reason for living.

I encountered a mini crisis of identity when I went on maternity leave with my second child and decided to stay at home for the first couple of years.  After six weeks of me and the baby, pacing our lives between feeding and changing and sleeping patterns, I was eager for adult conversations, for activities beyond my four walls, for stimulation from any source.  Going back to school for a Master's Degree in an area that I craved to explore proved most satisfying. I could still be a full-time Mom to my baby, keep the house relatively clean for the family, and take one or two classes late afternoons when my husband could get home and babysit and appreciate the work I was doing.

I did not anticipate the crisis I went through when I retired.

My life lacked direction. I felt empty, inconsequential. 
How about you?
Was the transition easy or difficult?

19 comments:

amalia said...

ciao , un caro saluto

Jinksy said...

Must admit, I took to it like a duck to water! I left work when I had my first baby, and was 'Mum at home' for at least the next eight years. For the next ten, I only taught part time, so family was my world, and work a sideline. But that allowed me time to learn more about many unconventional subjects which wove seamlessly into 'ordinary' life... Retirement to me has been how life is meant to be! *smiles*

The Odd Essay said...

Our biggest challenge when we retired was figuring out how to cram all we wanted to do into the 30 or so years we figured we had left. We've been retired 16 years and not only have a list yards long, we keep adding to it.

Brian Miller said...

well i am not there yet and wont be for some time still but, i have ideas now and i am sure they might change...it is amazing how much work defines us...i felt it when i was laid off before bacuse it can lose signifigance...

Kerry said...

I've never liked the question "what do you do" but I really detest being asked that these days.

mxtodis123 said...

I really love this post. Because I am a new retiree, I am getting, 'What did you use to do?" I suppose that will end in time, but it does feel strange to hear the words 'used to'.
Mary

troutbirder said...

It was very easy. I loved my work and my identity was around family and teaching. But then there were may hobbies. Hunting, fishing, canoeing, camping, tennis etc etc. all outdoorsy stuff. And oh reading. Retirement left me having to give some up due to a bad knee. but most continued and now I had all the time I wanted and spring and fall were free. I love being retired as much as I love teaching...:)

Helen said...

Caring for my mother jump-started retirement for me .. must admit to feeling 'lost' after she passed away, needing 'more' to occupy my time and my brain. It's been six years now and I have found the activities that keep me focused and happy. I am grateful.

Rian said...

I've only been retired a few years and am still loving 'the freedom' it provides. And although I find tons of things to do to occupy my time, do occasionally feel anxiety over the thought of what tomorrow may bring. But I try to actively practice being grateful for today and this time in life that many don't get the opportunity to take part in.

the walking man said...

Let's see it's been close to 14 years now...when I find a new something or other to define me I'll let you know, I just drift from day to day as they pass. Maybe I am just a mystic hobo?

Tom Sightings said...

Like some others, I have plenty to do ... but still have trouble answering the question, what do you do? But now, after several years, I'm finally beginning to be content to answer that question by saying: I'm retired!

Patricia said...

Wonderful post, Rosaria. I did not experience this crisis when i retired because I was also starting a new marriage, so it was more of a beginning than an ending. Now, when I meet new retired friends, I tend to ask, "How do you choose to spend your time?" that is the beauty to me...I own my time and it is my choice.

Rob-bear said...

My first task in retirement was to get healthy. It has taken several years, but I'm doing much better now than I have in the last seven or eight.

With the natural curiosity of a journalist, I've found things to do, though it has taken some time. My newest adventure is in Tai Chi — three classes a week. Precision movement at slow speed; exactly the kind of thing an old Bear needs.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

#1Nana said...

Yep, retirement took some time to adjust to. I always answer the question with "I'm retired, so I do only what I want."

The spouse retired last week. He's hunting and fishing like a maniac. I went back to work full-time. I'll retire again at the end of the year...and figure out what the two of us will do together.

RNSANE said...

I can so relate to this post, Rosaria. First of all, my retirement was not of my own choosing but because of San Francisco's massive cuts to public health. After 21 years in forensic nursing, a new specialty for nurses, I was lost and so depressed. With only four of us in this role for SF, I spent more than my share of time doing rape and child abuse cases but I was so excited with this new specialty and thrilled to be in on the ground floor. I embraced forensic with a passion, attending every conference I could - to the tune of $15,000 my first year in the field. I was one of 74 nurses who met in MN in 1992 to form our International association and I never missed an annual conference.

Suddenly, I was cut off from my colleagues with whom I had shared so much. When I downsized and put things in storage to come to India, I got rid of all my forensic nursing materials, notes, books....so I was really bereft.

I even let my membership in IAFN lapse...and stopped going to conference....no need, really, and too expensive for a retiree.

India has been so good for me. At least, I am still traveling and living here very reasonably. I still my all my forensic contacts, though, and that identity.

yaya said...

I read this the other day and thought for sure I had commented..but I guess not! Anyway, retirement is still a few years away, but I know how fast time flies and I'm trying to establish some hobbies I can continue when I have more free time. Also my church activities will increase...but the real issue is having good health to enjoy anything that I decide to do! I'm trying to work on that now!

Velva said...

I am working hard now to be ready to re-define myself in retirement. No doubt there will be adjustment but I am ready to embrace it.

Velva

Friko said...

I have periods off work throughout my life, with children mainly.
Nearing retirement I fell seriously ill and was forced to stop. When I got better I just didn’t feel like getting back on the wheel. I am quite happy being retired.

Patrica Ball Morrison said...

We were moving from CA to MN so I had no time to ponder...even though we had planned the move it was too fast....and now still years later, I wonder...I was a career profesional so this hit home...all that achievement and now it seems so irrelevant. Hobbies abound but nothing that grabs like "golf" which neither of us do. What do I do, "I tinker, write, read, garden..." often that generates no response.