Just starting the journey...

by Elana G
(Whitestone, NY)

My name is Elana, and I am about to retire after 31 years as a NYC elementary school teacher. I am not being forced out, but I am unhappy with the current political climate in which teachers are being forced to teach using high stakes tests to evaluate both our students, and ourselves. So I am choosing this retirement.

Financially, I'm a better place then most, being single with no children. I will have a good pension that I should be able to live comfortably on.

My issues are more part of a life time problem - I have lived with anxiety and depression since the age of seven. Both conditions have been under control thanks to medications, and a good therapist.

At first I though retirement would be heaven, but now I find myself suffering with a huge rise in my levels of anxiety. My therapist tells me that this is normal, which I believe. I guess I just feel guilty for not "loving" retirement right away.

I also have felt distance from colleagues who have been a part of my everyday life for a very long time. The are mostly younger, with small children, so I've had little to no contact with them since school ended.

I guess I'm just worrying "what I want to be when I grow up," in other words will I be able to find ways to enjoy my interests, such as history without falling back into old patterns of depression and anxiety.

I'm just beginning this journey- I can't even file retirement papers until after September 16th, which will be my 55th birthday. I'm happy to have found this site to see how other people are dealing with their individual situations.

Comments for Just starting the journey...

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It gets better
by: Cyndy CO

Hi first let me say Congratulations for being able to retire at such a young age. I retired last Dec at 60 1/2. I worked in a very stressful environment lots of overtime and basically no life! So when I decided I had just had enough I retired.

To be honest I didn't really think a lot about it just felt like I needed out ASAP. In many ways I think it was good for me my husband retired shortly after I did but he had been planning for a year. We are learning the ropes of it all and each day is an adventure! I think my biggest fear is the financial aspects. But we are doing okay.

I need to stay busy and have taken up dog sitting. It's fun and easy. I enjoy the pups I watch and gives me spending money. It's not a constant source of income but gives me freedom to also do things I want to do and if we decide we want to travel I just don't take any clients. It's been my salvation!

I also am looking in to a part time job of 15 to 20 hours a week. I refuse to be stuck in the house all winter with no people contact. I need it and decided after last winter and about driving myself and my husband crazy I am being proactive!

I think it takes time to find your niche and you will find yours. Your still very young and have so much life to live. Give yourself time to find what it is you want to do.

Good Luck and God Bless

Thanks to all
by: Anonymous

Thank you to all for your words of wisdom and advice. It is reassuring to find other people who have experienced what you are going through, and understand some of the unique challenges!

I started Early, too
by: Susan/ Richmond, VA

Hi Elana,

I went through the same feelings when I retired early.. by my own decision. My stress and work, where I had been for 34 years and stress with elderly parents, made me save and plan for my retirement. I loved having it to look forward and I loved planning my finances. Then I did it.

After the initial elation, and the constant running back and forth to help with parents, who live 2 hours away... And the realization I wasn't ready to move away, like I thought I was...

I started to have a panicked feeling of WHAT DID I DO? I also started to question how I could give up, up to 10 years of future earnings at a great salary. I always thought I'd work at something, but just didn't know what it was.

I retired at 56. All of my friends work. So I joined some clubs.walking...women's clubs...etc. Things to do during the day..most people were older, but I still enjoyed their company. Being single, I wanted to not have so much ALONE time. I also have a dog I am addicted to, so I am always walking her, or taking her places. I volunteered at the hospital 2 days a week. Loved it..I needed the structure of something (good) to do.

Oh, my favorite opportunity, was joining my VERY cool choir at church. We do lots of performances, so we work hard. When working, I would have been too afraid to commit...as I always thought I had no time. This was the BEST thing for me.

But I still had LONG days (evening activities were easy to find).

Then as I was just deciding to get some sort of job, my old company asked me to be an Actuarial Consultant..part time...flexible...work on a familiar (but VERY HARD, mathematically and program, techie, wise) project. It was a blessing. I love it. No one reports to me, nor do I have a boss I need to report to. I just work very hard, pull in good money (as I said I was starting to freak about finances, a little), I get to see people when I go in..work at home if I need to. And have that 'structure' I love. If I had others to 'hang with' during the day, then my story would be different. But I don't.

This contract job won't last forever. So I now know, I will need to work at something..for some money..but I don't know what it will be.

I still think I'll sell my big home, at some point, but the right place hasn't presented itself yet. My main thing is I know I need people. I am young, and I was thinking 'old'.

So, you are fine with money, that is great. Give yourself sometime, to see what might present itself, as to what to do 'when you grow up'. Keep your mind open, and network with others. Listen and be aware of yourself. The right answer of what to do will happen.

It takes a while
by: Bailey. Your Name/Location

Kinda takes a while to give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. So far...we did the necessary. Things to be organized and make things easy from day to day. I am making items that will be awesome for my daughter that will be married in two weeks. She has an elopement pkg and will go to a dancefestopia. I have tons of embellishments for their lawn chairs. And I am chipping away at all the things I didn't do when I was grading essays.

Give It Just A Little More Time
by: Mark in Maryland

Hello Elana,

With a subtle change to an old song title, give it just a little more time.

And Happy Early Birthday by the way! I will turn 62 on September 19th and I have been retired now for two full years. Mine was mostly due to heart disease, but the reasons for choosing retirement are pretty much moot.

As I am wont to tell people who ask me what I do, my standard reply is "I get paid to not work. How great is that?"

I am also bi-polar and have been hospitalized for clinical depression on two occasions, so I truly do understand your heightened anxiety. "Regular" people might tell you they understand, but they really don't.

Anyway, I challenge you moving forward in two areas. First, think deeply about those one or two things that as a child brought you unparalleled and effusive joy, and slowly begin to reintegrate one or both of them into your new life of discovery.

One of my forsaken joys is (artistic) painting. Second, find one way to help someone less fortunate than yourself to have a more joyful or even less stressful existence. You have been blessed with a fine education and the time to use it now for something other than your own survival. The reward for giving of yourself is indescribable.

Don't get me wrong. I still have days when I feel like having my own, personal pity party, and you will experience those days as well. But they are becoming less and less frequent every day.

And don't worry, you've got this!

Retirement is like a rebirth
by: Elna Nugent

Dear Elana, As a former elementary school teacher I can relate to some of what you are going through.

Most school teachers I have known are an intelligent, dedicated, fun loving dynamic group whose energy and comraderie I missed when I retired. ( Retirement for me was due to having gotten married at 30 and a year later a baby was on the way.) In those days it was a given to retire when this occurs. Marriage takes away ones last name, and all the co-workers , the children, and camraderie as you leave your work. I found this life changing.

At least you have retained your name and people you have taught with. Psychologists claim that depression is anger or deep hurt turned inward rather than being expressed.

Is that a possibility in your case, since it occurred in your life when you were very young. You may have a story in you that is dying to be told, and that might help others if you told it. Have you ever considered writing a memoir or taking a class where others are doing the same. I found this to be very helpful.
Its like letting go of your past on sheets of paper. You could even write your life on these retirement pages.
Many blessings to you.

Consider working part-time
by: M Hertel, watertown, WI

If you can make the change less complete it may be easier to do. My brother also retired from teaching but did substitute teach for a while.

by: Carolyn

Alana - I felt exactly the same as you did - anxiety and depression - although for the first 7 months I loved retirement as many of my friends had retired so I had people to do things with in Toronto - museums, art gallery, hiking, a visit to your fair city - but then some negative things happened such as my sister getting ill and our dog dying and I began to miss the distraction and social aspects of work - it took me 6 months to find a medication but within a year I began to feel my old self again after a terrible bout with depression partly caused by some of the medications that were making me worse - till I found one that worked - I am no longer in that dark place and am enjoying retirement - although I still have problems with trying to be busy 7 days a week - I volunteer with animals and keep busy with friends and have a Caribbean cruise booked - I am single, no kids too. You will feel better! It just takes time.

by: Dave in SanDiego

Congratulations. You are so young. As Wendy said you will work through it. I did not keep in contact with a lot of my co workers either because they were mostly a lot younger.. I retired in 2013 and I am going back to work for a second time in Septembet after my grand daughters start school. Good luck with everything

by: Wendy


This same feeling hits so many new retirees and is something you will work through. Give yourself the time to step back and figure out a new path for your retirement. Give yourself time to grieve the loss of the workplace you once knew and the co-workers you enjoyed.

Then, give yourself a little kick in the you-know-what and get moving. Volunteer somewhere, consider what you are passionate about or what you might enjoy doing for fun. Start a new home business: maybe somewhere you can tutor kids? start a website where you can help teachers or students? pets?

Simply find something in life that you can be excited about again... you'll be fine, just give it all time!

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