Contemplating retirement last fall...I have since decided to retire in June - yikes!
by M. Tejeda
(Lake Tahoe, Nevada)
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.