Who am I? Identity by self.

When I was first thinking about writing this book/blog, I talked with one of the women in my aquafit class at the Y who had retired a few years ago and mentioned that I thought there would be many identity issues upon retirement. Her response to my comment was a resounding “yes”. This wasn’t exactly reassuring to me because now I knew for sure it would be an issue but I didn’t know how to address it.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, my identity was rooted in being somebody’s daughter. Then I was defined as being somebody’s wife (but, as a feminist, and given my personal in-and-out-of-wifehood history, I can’t hang too much of myself on that particular hook anyhow), somebody’s mother, a teacher, somebody’s grandmother, somebody’s friend … and on the list can go. 

From my perspective today – looking out into the abyss of retirement (don’t see why abyss can’t have a positive meaning too) – so many questions begin to float across the horizon.  I’ll deal with some of the specifics in subsequent postings.

QUESTIONS FOR THE CRONES: 

  • What was the shift from a work/professional identity to being a retiree like for you?
  • Did you feel less valued as a retiree?
  • How did you build a new identity?
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2 responses to “Who am I? Identity by self.

  1. People vary in how much of their identity is bound up in their work. I would have thought that because I found teaching totally all-consuming that I would have been lost without it. However, my friend Tisha said, “you’ll be fine; you’re like me. Your work doesn’t define you.” I was a bit surprised because she’s a research scientist with her own lab. But it wasn’t an enormous issue for me. Perhaps because I have continued to do bits and pieces of work.

    It’s exciting to have to prove yourself all over again at every endeavour you undertake. You can’t have a thin ego to try doing things you haven’t done since high school….like being the lady in the back row in the exercise class who can’t stand on one foot and doesn’t know where the mats go.

    In many ways I feel more valued — when I do volunteer work the staff have to say, “Thank you so much, you’re just awesome!” every 15 minutes. I have time to cook fairly elaborate Sunday suppers. My family says thank-you. Sometimes quite a few days at work could go by without too much gratitude.

    One of the best steps I made toward a new identity was new business cards — with my name, address, phone and e-mail. No fancy titles or roles. I’m somebody.

  2. That’s kind of why I started blogging, so I could say, when people asked me what I do, “I’m a blogger” instead of “I’m retired.”

    But the truth is I’m so happy to not be identified with my work anymore. That identity had such a boring association (accountant)–I’m so excited to shed that identity and get to be something far more interesting!

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