Contemplating retirement last fall...I have since decided to retire in June - yikes!

by M. Tejeda
(Lake Tahoe, Nevada)

My First Classroom

My First Classroom

Thirty four years is a long time. A long time to be doing the same thing - teaching. Wasn’t it just last week that I finished my student teaching and was finally hired (after the start of the school year) to teach 6th grade?

“Give Marie ten students you don’t want,” said my first principal. If those were the ones that the other teachers didn’t want, I can only imagine the ones they kept were perfect angels. My first year was spent fighting what seemed like weekly (horrible) colds, keeping one page ahead of the class in math and wondering what the hell I was doing. But, the kids? They were awesome. They were lively and loving, fun and frustrating, challenging and utterly unforgettable.

Thirty four years later, I’m still in touch with some of them and, in fact, have their kids in my 6th grade classes this year. I cannot imagine doing anything else and yet, the time has come to consider doing just that: something else. I just wish I knew what that “something else” was.

I think it’s time to retire. There are many things driving this decision – the need to slow down a bit, wanting to spend more time with my kids and grandkids and, yes, the need to get another job to pay off enormous debts.

I am 61 years young and wondering what my next career will be. It will most certainly NOT be as long-lived as my teaching career, but hopefully it will be as meaningful. I have spent my life being useful and serving the common good. It’s who I am and what I do; at least it has been for most of my life.

What will I do now? Write? Volunteer? Work at Ace Hardware?

I am ready to move on to greener and more interesting…oh, hell, here’s the real crux of it: I’m terrified by the thought of retiring. There, I’ve said it. Now, I don’t presume to be the first person to feel this way, but most people I talk to who have retired seem to have the completely opposite feeling!

“I just LOVE it!” (Uttered in an irritatingly joyful tone of voice.)

“Wish I’d done it years ago!” (Yeah? Could you have afforded it years ago?)

“I’m out golfing (bowling/shopping/add your own precious pursuit here) while you’re working!”

Not me. I do best in a structured environment; all you have to do is look at my house at the end of a long weekend or school vacation. All the stuff I was “going to get around to” is still sitting right where I left it until approximately one day before it’s time to go back to work.

I always work better under pressure and tend to drift when there’s no framework in place to order my days. I read, putter, willingly and happily fall down endless internet rabbit holes and while away enormous amounts of time following breaking news on CNN. (I had to mute the damn TV and its fascinating coverage of Hurricane Sandy to just get started on this piece. Wait, I’ll be right back after I check for timely details and the Giants’ World Series score. This is the modern equivalent of “Look! A squirrel!”)

And then there’s the anxiety issue. I am cursed with the need to be busy and meaningful or I fall prey to my shadow side. Despite acquiring a black belt in therapy over the years, I still cannot shake the notion that to be idle is to be the Devil’s something or other.

Retiring without a plan in place will likely result in me being found cowering behind the shoe rack in my closet, quaking with an indefinable fear (not to mention disgust at my smelly shoes). Yes, I know I must learn to “face my fears” but I’ve tried that and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. I’m fine when I’m productive, so productive is what’s for dinner.

So, plan I must. My paperwork for retirement is due by the end of November. I have one month to make a life-altering decision – to retire or not to retire. I will decide “…whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles”.

Thanks, Hamlet, I’ll get back to you by December 1. Stay tuned – gotta go check the election news…And then begin to plan as if my life depended upon it.

Because it does; it really does.

Wendy: I assume you've already found the MANY retirement anxiety stories on this site? If not, click on the Anxiety/Depression link in the left navigation bar!

I believe you have, because your story reads like so many others. It sounds like you're thinking logically, and KNOW you can't sit at home. It's rarely a good idea for new transitioning retirees!

Kudos on your decision,... now on to bigger and better things in life, only what is that? Your choice! The world awaits you... bet you do something great!!

p.s. Lake Tahoe is a beautiful area. We visited, on my 40th birthday to have lunch on the Glass Bottomed Boat... sounded like fun! The boat ride was simply gorgeous, the glass bottom practically non-existent (I never went down there, husband did). Grin! We vacation in Las Vegas (condo) for years now... so that was one of our side trips one year.

Comments for Contemplating retirement last fall...I have since decided to retire in June - yikes!

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You have a talent for writing...that should keep you focused and on track. You certainly have the skills to write something AMAZING!

I'd love to correspond with you! Please click on the "Friendship Here" link on the right.
I'm in the "Penpal" group. You will find lots of groups to join.

June is a good time.
by: Anonymous Chuck

Any time is a good time to retire. I too looked forward to retiring and the closer I got the more chicken I was becoming. Then I thought sitting in my cubical - is this what I really want to do? Then I did it.

After two careers spanning 44 years I walked out, got in my car. Looked one more time at the Bulk Mail Center and drove off without looking in the rear view mirror. That was 2007.

Like I told all my friends, if I knew retirement was this good, I'd have done it after graduating high school. You are worried about doing something? What do you want to do? And what's stopping you?

Be a cruise director. Learn to fly. Learn to fix "stuff". Do something different. Do something the same. Just do it.

Rabbit Holes
by: Anonymous

M. Tejeda,

Welcome! I'm curious to find out what 'Internet Rabbit Holes' you are actually falling into?

Personally, I look at my retirement life from an internal perspective where you need to do some self-discovery homework, get empowered and then begin your new journey towards self-actualization.

As I understand it Internet rabbit holes are outside sources of pursuit which would make you think somewhat externally, where others are probably telling you what to do and when to do it.

Joe W.

I don't remember writing this but I must have
by: Nui

Wow... I swear I must have written this. Like you, I work best under pressure and will even create artificial deadlines to force myself to do things e.g. invite the family for dinner in order to finish the housework.

I did a trial semi-retirement starting in January and found that the extra days off a week were completely wasted. I mostly just sat and watched TV.

My transition to full-time off-time will be easier: I bought an RV and I've decided to leave town the day after I retire on May 31st. I don't plan to come back for 8 months or more - until I've adjusted to doing nothing.

In your case, perhaps you could enroll in a course or two, which would force you out of the house. Volunteering can feel a lot like work, so I hesitate to recommend that: some people like the commitment, others don't.

You sound like an energetic person, though, so I suspect that you will find ways to keep yourself stimulated. Good luck!

Enjoyed your writing skills
by: Jeannette

I just loved reading your post! You are obviously a writer and a very talented one. I suggest you think about doing something that involves writing. I identified with everything about you and found your way of describing the situation so clear, easy to read, and very enjoyable. Please write more on this website so I can read more.

One week I am so sure about "getting the heck outta" my workplace and then another week, I am scared to make a move. I signed up for Canada Pension and then got nervous because I heard you have to be unemployed for two months before the pension starts and I am not going to be retired yet. So that made me nervous too. Am I already making a wrong decision and setting things up the wrong way??

I have been nursing since 1974, how many years is that anyway??

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