Up from Forced Retirement

by William
(Santa Barbara, CA)

I was forced into early retirement at age 57, after 32 years as a director at a university.

Parallel to this, I am a musician (that was my education and background). I took an admin job originally “while waiting for something musical to present itself.” That job grew into a position that was as much or more than most faculty positions. And the golden handcuffs kept me there for 32 years, even though I kept the vague dream of “jumping off to music” in the back of my mind that whole time. (This is not a plausible option now, due to the nature of the profession and passage of time.)

My position at one time had been prestigious and rewarding. It had faded tremendously in the past 5 years or so, but I still had hope it would return to its former luster. Besides, I was building a pension.

The job situation became precarious. Following broken promises and a highly acrimonious layoff, I am left to wonder what I am to do at this point.

Fortunately, I have a pension, which while adequate, it’s not what it would have been if I had been allowed to work three more years, retiring as I intended (at age 60).

But, I am mired in nonstop anger and depression. Each and every day. I even dream about the conflict(s) when sleeping! I don’t miss the job as it was at the end, but I miss what it once was, and that is gone forever.

I’m told to “move on,” but I don’t see anything to “move on” to… I could take another job I suppose, but it's not work I miss, it's the type of position I once had, and that's gone. Now I suppose I am free to pursue dreams, but what?

And that leads to a major issue I am dealing with now:

All my life I held many things in the “future dreams” category. Someday I’ll concertize. Someday I’ll paint. Someday I’ll finish that opera. Someday… etc.

Work and its associated time commitments successfully protected me from actually ever having to come good on any of these tentative future plans.

I could push all these dreams to the future, not worrying about having to bring about any of the dreams — because I was busy with work!

But now I’m not busy with work, and I am faced with either trying to make these dreams come true, or realizing that they were nothing but illusions all along. And that is depressing.

The validity of one’s life is tied up in all this, and if these future dreams/plans are in fact illusory, so too is one’s life. And suddenly you wonder what the whole point of anything is…

Comments for Up from Forced Retirement

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The Door is Open
by: Elna Nugent, Lenox, MA

Dear William:

You may be sick of hearing the line that when "a door closes another one opens." The catch is you may have to have patience when it comes to waiting for that new door to open. But it will open, eventually.

In the meantime you are in a testing pattern. Retirement is a gigantic initiation rite into reality. Before the door eventually opens, you may have to go through a tough, clear self-analysis. We all have to go through this at some point.

One great way is to imagine yourself to be any person you are talking to, and hear your own words flowing back to you.

How do you come across to others? Are you being real and authentic? If you are being real and I think you are, that door may open to you sooner than you expect. God bless

by: Sheila


My suggestion is to look around and find someone or some institution that needs someone who has your experience in life.

This is Christmas, so start here and ask your local Salvation Army or other charity what you can do to make Christmas brighter for someone. Then make your New Year's resolution to include those folks all year around.

Response to William
by: Carolyn

Hi William: I understand how you feel. I retired in October 2013 and for 7 months I loved it - then things began to happen - my sister fell ill, our dog died, my condo was having its balconies repaired which meant frantic drilling noise for weeks on end; it just seemed everything was going wrong and had I been at work I would be distracted - but I was not at work and fell into a severe depression.

I took anti depressants and the first 3 did nothing but the 4th did bring me out of it - plus time - altogether I am now doing much better although I miss my job but I totally know what you mean when you say you miss the job 'as it was" - because when I left it was nothing like it had bee previously - this site helped me a lot to realize I was not alone with my depression and fears.

Now I am busy out and about with friends and planning a cruise this January to the Caribbean - it will pass - you might want to see a doctor if your depression worsens. Medication can help for some. I wish you the best.

Great article!!
by: Wendy, www.retirement-online.com

So much to say, so little time...

First, so many have "been there and done that" before... we lose ourselves to our jobs, only later to wonder WHY OH WHY we gave so much of ourselves away? Yep....

You certainly "get it" and MUCH quicker than many others!

Due to age, you may or may not be able to conquer your BIG dreams -- but you certainly have loads more to give the world. Frankly, I don't think the big dreams are out of reach either, but only YOU know the answer there. It IS out of reach... if you do nothing more.

You might volunteer in some music venue locally -- get known, become a familiar face, doors open... and you simply enjoy every moment you are "working".

You might start a website/blog... teach others what you know, teach classes, write about a specific music niche, review music or instruments etc. It's a big wide world on the internet, lots of opportunity, seriously. For fun or for profit. Some ideas on my home biz website just to make you think bigger:

So much more to say, but I honestly think you are better off than many others... you simply need to get out of the house and think about what actions you might take towards a future! You've got so many options.. seriously!

Heck - you are FIFTY SEVEN! GRIN! You could easily have another 10, 20, 25ish years before you choose to be content and retire-retire.... or not!

Retirement is a Journey --
Not a Destination....

Can't wait to see where you are going!
Please keep us updated!

Best Wishes!! Wendy

p.s. Do you realize how many older adults are "forced out" of their jobs? Happens to many! When I played Retirement Manager, many confided behind closed doors... but otherwise, they put on the happy "Yep, I'm retiring" face to the world. In reality, happens to many... just wanted you to know, its NOT just you!

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