Losing my identity in retirement...

by Alison

I was lucky enough to be able to retire from a very stressful job at the age of 58.

While I was retiring, and collecting a pension, I knew that I would also continue to work. I am too young to give up on the idea of collecting a paycheck and to retire this early meant either I live frugally, or I continue to work.

One month into retirement, I knew I would have to work. I retired at the end of summer and once the nice weather was over I could not imagine spending my days reheating soup and sitting in my house freezing to death to keep from paying huge heating bills.

I had a very well paid job but I could not easily transition my experience to a well paying part time job. And the job market is so different from when I first interviewed and sold myself for the job I worked at for 31 years.

I could not possibly translate in a resume what I could bring to a new organization in a part time capacity and I was completely overlooked due to my age and possibly my previous experience.

Who would want to hire an old "boss" for a part time job at the bottom of the ladder when only months ago I had been a person of authority in a previous job?

I finally interview for a couple of retail kinds of seasonal jobs virtually hiding the role I'd had in my previous work history and I learned a lot, but it was the most humbling experience I ever had.

I have HUGE respect for young minimum wage workers in retail. I have never been treated so dismally and disrespectfully in my life by customers and superiors. It was a great learning experience but as soon as the holiday season was over, I went back to pounding the pavement looking for another position.

I have a new one now, and it pays a bit better and I am appreciated for my knowledge and maturity, but it is still a little "nothing" kind of job that keeps me busy but is not giving me an identity.

I could not wait to leave my previous job having become a dinosaur and an old fart. I wanted desperately to leave behind the Generation X and Milleniums that I had butt heads with.

I wanted them to suffer in my absence because I took so much knowledge and wisdom with me. Bah. They don't miss me at all. And they quickly have regrouped and they changed ancient business practices for new ways of getting things done.

And I continue to have to share work space with the younger population. I guess my dream job would be to read books all day written by people of my generation and maybe put them away or sell them to people of a similar age and spirit as myself. I have not seen that job on Craigslist.

So my identity right now is missing. I'm embarrassed to admit that I have hidden behind my nameplate at a job I could not wait to escape from and I did not further investigate who I am outside the work time clock.

I was going to be a writer when I retired. Now I sit at my desk and think...what was I going to write about? I should have written that down. Do I really have anything to say? I need to get another job that gives me identity or I am afraid I am going to disappear.

I ask my retired friends if they have lost their identity and they look at me like I am crazy.
I ask them what they do all day and the answer is universal. "Whatever I want".

When I ask for specifics, I am thwarted. I think the answer is in that afternoon cocktail or glass of wine.

I am NOT going there.

But while I am working in my little "nothing" kind of job that at least forces me out of bed at a given time and breaks up a lot of my down time, I need to figure out who I am.

I used to be so many things... mother, wife, boss, girlfriend, confidant, healer, giver etc etc etc.

But the list is narrowing.

I am nobody, who are you...

Comments for Losing my identity in retirement...

Click here to add your own comments

by: Anonymous

Dear Alison,

You are certainly not this 'NOBODY' referred to at the end of your piece. This essay alone, and the fact that you wrote/published it in retirement just as you had planned to do are the only proof that I require.

When you were still working, and in charge, there must have been problems constantly cropping up; problems that you were being paid to confront/solve because you had the necessary skills to do that. The new problems you will face as a retired person living on a reduced income will absolutely respond in the same way to the applications of your skills and determination.

Add to this, the fact that sharing with us here, all the minutiae of your desparate struggles, your failures and your victories will improve Retirement-Online, while it will increasingly be able to furnish the kinds of support, in the amounts needed that can further empower your newfound freedom.

Losing identity
by: Jenny

I retired three weeks ago mostly because I was tired, and being a secretary in Technology, just didn't have the mind, and physical strength, or stamina to do it without wearing me to the bone.

So, my husband is still working and jokingly tells me how hard I don't work. Well, after working since I was 16, full time , mostly being responsible for 3 kids, and a very active lifestyle, I decided I deserved it.

This year I hit my numbers and turned 62. It was a great relief the first week and into the second week I began to experience the identity crisis.

I have joined a bible study, and doing some Christian online meditation, trying to learn to gear down. I am talking to other retired people that love it. I think, I was so burned out, but, I do enjoy being alone with my dog most days until my husband comes home.

I discovered I had lost a lot of my cooking skills, and not real keen on housecleaning, but, I set up a schedule I fill out everyday, and plan times to do things, it seems to help.

So, will it you know how it goes.

by: diane

I retired a year and one half ago. I also has a high paying responsible job. I had moved around from community to community for my work. That resulted in no friends and no social life but I worked long hours so it didn't matter.

When I decided to retire, I realized that I would have to look for an identity that did not belong to work.

I looked at that as my new job. What would I do? so thought about the things about my other job that I did not have.

I was a manager who had staff and looked after complaints etc but had very little contact with general public. So I got a volunteer position as a receptionist and that lead to a couple of other volunteer opportunities in the same society.

THe other thing I did was apply for the board of Directors in an agency just to keep my professional life feeling.

I also looked at some things i thought i would have experienced if I had the time... so I happened upon a quilting group and now I quilt... not very good at it but i keep trying and am getting there.

I also spend some time with grandkids but only as much as I want to so that I would keep enjoying them.

I hope that helps.

by: Gail, Michigan

...you had me early on, Allison. You are a writer and able to elicit interest and emotion from your readers. Keep doing it. Just talking about your experience and feelings - it works!

I could identify with your situation - it was similar to mine. There are (no doubt) thousands of others who will identify with your experiences, also.

You just need to garner some confidence to reach out, experience some success (any kind of 'win'), and then watch your energy grow.

Best of luck to you!

To Alison NY
by: Carolyn

I've posted here numerous times Alison usually when I read comments such as yours because I am one of those rare few who have regretted my retirement 15 months ago whereas most of my friends are loving it.

I have been depressed since May 2014 when my sister got sick - even when she rallied and is well, the depression would not leave.

I went through a 7 month honeymoon period of loving retirement - I had lots of friends to do stuff with so went to lectures, hiking, lunch, art gallery, volunteered at the humane society - but once I got depressed I found I didn't have the motivation to do all this.

I am forcing myself out but not enjoying it - I am on medication but it doesn't seem to be working and I feel like I am never going to be "me" again - like you I have lost my identity and didn't realize how important my job was to me.

I don't know how much retirement is to blame for my depression but its a big chunk of it I know.

I miss the social aspects of work most as I live alone.

Dear Allison
by: Wendy

I think you should write a blog.

Perhaps simply as a hobby, at first, while working part-time to make ends meet.

Later, you will have a following and an income.

You might even do a blog on Boomer Books and read, review and recommend books for other booomer-bookers like you. Add Amazon affiliate links and earn a commission when someone buys.

Write to me (contact me, bottom of left column() if you are in the least interested... I can help you a bit, just in finding direction!

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Write Your Own Story Here (others can provide feedback).