Retirement: From somebody to nobody

by General ZEE
(Camden NJ)

I am about to retire from the military after almost 45 years active and reserve time. Here I am General and Sir. Outside I am nobody.

Many of my friends are dead. I am almost 60, financially well off. kids grown. Been looking for a job, Masters degree. No takers. I feel I will lose my identity once I retire in 30 days. My wife is supportive but I am lost. HELP !

Wendy: You are right, you will lose your work identity when you retire. It's inevitable... and quite a transition to adjust to. The problem is that many of us (me included) are more "work" identity, compared to other facets of life.

Luckily, it's almost spring/summer so it's a bright and sunny time of year where you can get out and about easily. Winter retirement transitions are worse, if you ask me.

For a few weeks, you'll feel odd, like you are on vacation -- only the "return to work" part never happens. Now what? That's the part you've got to consider.. what will you do all day, every day, now? Lots of options....

Best Wishes!!

Comments for Retirement: From somebody to nobody

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Who you were is in the past
by: Jude - India

Dear General, others;

Who you were is in the past. Now the lucky you gets to create a new identity, a new self and a new life. So far you have lead your lives for yourself. Have you considered living for your neighbour/neighbourhood? After all Christ said ... love your neighbour as I have loved you!

And therein lies your new challenge. How to find ways to be engaged in your local communities and be the new beacons of hope, love, patience and all those other spiritual gifts that you now long for. Get engaged in orphanages, help the widows and other incapacitated seniors in your neighbourhoods...

Since money is not the issue, I suggest you forget about the money; remove it from the equation and just focus on being a good neighbour and a great contributor to your neighbourhoods.

Use your talents and skills to mentor the next generations of peoples, create new practices in places that dont have good practices for their operations. Find God. Delve into your faith and live it.

These are the things that will fulfil you and create a new identity, sense of worth and contribution for yourself.

God bless you and your endeavours. May your retirements be fruitful.

Letting go of my job status
by: robb g

Moved to a full page so that other visitors won't miss this AND will comment too!

Letting go of my job status

Me Too
by: Bob

I retired after 31 years of Federal Service as a US Department of Army Police Officer. I was the Deputy Chief of a Major Army Installation.

I had no idea i would stress and dread things. Sleep is a negative thing now and I get stressed and anxious for no reason. The scarry part is I don't understand why it's happening to me.

I have no bills and enough money. I guess my identity is gone.

I work all day in my yard (I have 1 acre and horses) but physical labor cannot replace the mental labor that my mind needs. I am applying for part time jobs at the Army Installation, nothing important, just something to do. It makes me feel better to apply. My girlfriend still works and will for several more years.

One thing that I have discovered is that I am not a loner and need people around me.

I will over come this feeling and beat it, and you will too.

frm somebody to a somebody different!
by: Michele

It will be strange at first. Give yrself time. Do thgs you love. Check ov the senior center. What is going on in your area. I had to go places & join, show up, sign up. But most important, have fun! Its a better life, free 2 do whatever u want. Meet new people. Have a great retirement.

Retirement-endless possibilities
by: Diana

I salute you for what you have given to your (my) country. All of the above who have written comments for you offer different perspectives but they are all correct. I agree and wish you a very healthy, happy and productive retirement!

by: Anonymous

Dear General, enjoy your retirement, You have more going for you then most. Started with pensions, you have your health and remember there are young men and women who will never get to retire as they are no longer with us.

Do some volunteer work with older Vets and stop feeling sorry for yourself.

You are never Nobody
by: Bett

General and Sir are titles of respect; they are not who you are. I think retirement will give you an opportunity to put aside the titles and the restrictions they bring and find out who you want to be.

I suggest using the first year of your retirement to try new activities and discover what you enjoy doing.

And if you are able to afford it financially, I recommend trying some different types of volunteer work. Volunteers are always desperately needed and helping other people is a great way to be a somebody. :)

Good luck and keep us updated with your retirement news.

The Best is Yet to Come
by: Barbara Young

Ever think your best years may be ahead of you?

It's quite possible, despite your long and productive career, which is now over.

In today's terms, you are a YOUNG MAN. With an intact family and ample funds, you are way ahead of many people about to retire.

You didn't say what kind of jobs you applied for, but probably they were not good "fits" for you, and I suspect it may be a blessing in disguise that you didn't get the job(s). Try reading a book that's helped zillions of job-seekers, the classic "What Color is Your Parachute?"

What extracurricular activities did you enjoy during all the years in the military? Or, what ones did you at least THINK you might enjoy?

You might want to note them in your new "job journal" -- nothing more than a spiral-bound $2.00 notebook from the drugstore into which you can scribble your thoughts, discouragements, hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, etc. etc.

Try to regard what's ahead of you with curiosity and a sense of adventure, because you ARE on an adventure! I wonder where it will lead you? And remember, you're not alone in the universe, and there IS a Higher Power available at any time.

Yet another battle to fight and win ....
by: Retd. Prof. Mr. Durgesh Kumar Srivastava, New Delhi, India

Dear General 'Saheb",

In India "Saheb' is a respectful form of address which means "Sir". So, I can say Doctor Saheb, Principal Saheb, Master Saheb etc. General Saheb, you entered the armed forces at the tender age of 15 and are now going to retire at the age of 60.

You must have fought many battles, if not wars. Please treat your present problem as a small battle which would require planning, strategy, and action. Hopefully, you will win this battle. All writers and readers of retirement-online website join me in wishing you all the best.

You have three unique advantages on your side - you are relatively young at 60 years, financially well prepared and your children are grown up/settled. These advantages will come handy for your retirement planning.

I have often observed that people retiring from the armed forces are happiest in the company of military personnel - working or retired. But the majority of people around you are likely to be civilians who are unaccustomed to military culture. You have to adjust with civilians.

These people have a relatively liberal and relaxed attitude towards life's affairs. Most of the time they deal with problems which do not require them to defeat and capture/kill the enemy. They also have a laid back sense of time. You have to adjust with these differences. You may have commanded a large number of troops, but in civil society, you have to deal with people as equals, not as subordinates or superiors.

So, replace some that "stiff upper lip" with a sweet smile and innocent laughter. That will help you assimilate with civil society. You can continue to pursue your military-days hobbies of golf, horse-riding and rifle shooting. But the time has come for lighter hobbies like fishing, music and dancing. If you are friendly, cheerful and outgoing, you will never be a "nobody" and always be a "somebody".

I invite you to visit the INDIA STORIES column of MEMORIES section of this website and read three of my many posts - (1) 7-Year Retirement Anniversary (2)Get Busy, Get Noticed ...., and (3) All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Let me narrate the story of a military retiree, who went to live in his small village. Being away from the village most of the time, very few people recognized him in his own native village. When the harvest festival of BAISAKHI came he organized a race for the village youth by offering a prize of a bicycle to the winner. That race became popular and an annual event. He became popular and loved through this innovative event.

With my best wishes to you!

Retired Military
by: Kae from Canada

It sounds like you are at loose ends and finding it a little difficult to get a plan going so I'd just like to plant a seed, if I may.

There are military schools or boot camps that youth are being sent to that would probably love to have your expertise. There is one in Canada, Welland Ontario called the Robert Land Academy and the boys benefit greatly from the Military Atmosphere and fine academics programme.

I'm not sure what is available in your State but maybe your could find out through the military or just by doing a google search. You have LOTS to offer and many youth in this time are in need of some fine discipline without having to commit to military service.

Good Luck. Kae from Canada

Somebody to Nobody
by: Zenobia

I would love to say that you will be "alright" or it will "pass in time" because we so closely associate with our jobs and professions. I like what Wendy said about Spring and renewal and you will feel as if you are on vacation but just with no return to work.

I remember seeing this in my Dad who was a veteran of World War Two. He came off that and then off his job of 30+ years and began to talk about both places endlessly. We allowed him because we knew that he felt lost and uneasy.

He never took on a hobby, never tried anything new and actually just wasted away, leaving us much too soon. I think he had a broken heart and felt that everything he had done for his country and for his family had gone un-noticed.

You are blessed to have a supportive spouse and I suggest also that you just "get out and get into it" and by that, I mean LIFE.

You were SOMEBODY when you began your service and you will never be a NOBODY.

Give it a try... I promise you will like it!

The best is yet to come
by: Boniface

Hello, Sir, between you and I we are both Sirs, you an important general, me a Knight of Columbus in the 4th degree. I did not want to joke but those are facts.

A picture comes to mind. Imagine two or three swimming pools close together. You are used to actiities in one, more or less, only. I swim in another one, meaning the religious life. For 52 years I am a monk. Perhaps this is where we can compare our situations. I could not become anything else, because this vocation was given to me by God.

You chose the military and I take it this vocation was also given you by God.

Now when our active life is over what next?

I am sure you have a panorama view of world problems and the situation as it presents itself now.

You have time for private life. Hobbies? Grandchildren? Travel, come visit me! You can expand your knowledge on specific topics, social, exploration and otherwise. You can become a "social animal" make use of your knowledge go to schools, teach, help youngsters.

Give God time to open your mind and heart and find a new vision. You certainly will!

And if you in your active duty life did not have time to reflect on life, on God and the more religious things in life, perhaps now is the time to make a retreat, take your wife to a resort, find things, life, peope. It is all there when we open our eyes.

Cheers. Life is good.

you will never be nobody
by: Anonymous

Good Luck in your retirement. As for myself, once I got used to the idea I am thoroughly enjoying myself and have very little time as I have found myself something of use to do. What about getting involved in something to do with wounded veterans ? they always need someone, if only to visit them.

Just a suggestion
Best Wishes
Georgina (Australia)

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