Dragons fueled by resentment

I am bursting with excitement about retiring in four months.  Thoughts of the future fill my mind and spirit in much the same way that I felt when I was pregnant with my first child and focused on what was coming.  Of course, then there’s that time after your first baby is born when you speak with joyful delight and enthusiasm about sleeping habits and spitting up; conversations that your friends – even your good friends – soon find tedious.  Today, more than I have for a long time,  I feel a lightness in my step and in my heart as I dream about being able to choose, each day, what new adventure I will undertake. 

Bonnie Bostrom, in her book “Women Facing Retirement“, says that: “Early mapmakers didn’t know what lay beyond chartered territory, so they warned of dragons.  The first few days and weeks of retirement can be filled with dragons.1” Well, seems I’m already looking some dragons in the eye!  

The issue of resentment has come up in conversations with a number of friends in the past week, which doesn’t surprise me because I think that I’ve seen it on the faces of some of my colleagues as well.  I asked one of my good friends if she’d feel resentful when I was retired and she still had to work; being a good friend she answered honestly: “Some!.”  


I’ve seen it in the eyes of my colleagues too.  I’ve lost track of how many times this week somebody has made reference to the fact that soon I’ll be “free”, that the challenges we’re still working through each day at work will soon not be my worry.  The words come with smiles, but there’s also an edge to the comments that concerns me.


Then there’s the inner dragon.  It does, indeed, get harder each week to stay really engaged in the work.  Doing strategic planning for projects that I can dream up, but won’t work on, is a double-edged sword.  Part of me is disengaging each day; another part of me is struggling to maintain the same level of care and commitment to my work that I’ve always had.



1.   Will resentment be something I truly will face from family and friends?

2.   How did you navigate your own excitement about starting a new phase of life and the reality that many of the people you love are not free to do the same?  Or, as we say at work, how did you mitigate resentment?

1 Bostrom, Bonnie S. (2007). Women Facing Retirement – A Time for Self-Reflection. Aslan Publishing, Fairfield, CT, p. 47




4 responses to “Dragons fueled by resentment

  1. My husband retired long before I did. I might have wished that he had filled his days with vacuuming but feeling resentful wasn’t part of the package for me. At least he could stay home to receive the plumber.

    Some of the people who make the “lucky you!” statements are not totally sincere….they may be eyeing your chair or feeling sorry for you for having got to be so OLD. All you have to do is say, “Yes, I AM lucky.” You do have to keep on showing up and it’s not good to come back to the office after a very, very long lunch pirouetting around showing off your new pedicure. Only tell your husband and your very best friend, “They’re going to see who’s been cleaning the microwave in the staff room all these years.” You have to continue to give 100%…but not 120%. Asking colleagues what you can get cleared up before you leave that will really help.
    People outside education often fail to understand that teachers have made very large contributions to their pension plans throughout their careers …and don’t want to hear about your fancy trips paid for with the taxpayers’ dollars. They’re often the same folks who carried on about what a soft job teachers have. They don’t want an explanation. These only matter if you’re related to them

    The ones I do feel badly about are the women who didn’t have the same opportunities as we did. Or people who need to retire because of poor health and can’t find a way. My neighbour is walking dogs and selling Avon to try to bridge her way to CPP. She has every right to resent me; and I’m sure she feels envious. But it doesn’t get in her way of being a friend.

    P.S. I’ve got quite a few of those cute lipsticks that you can pop up with one hand. She tells me that Carrie someone-or-other on TV uses them. So I guess buying lipstick is one way of “mitigating resentment.”

  2. Esther Andrews

    I’m not quite ready to retire – I mean I am “eligible” so in the ball park but not quite there. I’d like to comment on the relationship issues of resentment from those of us not retiring, yet. I’d like to think that the friend who admitted to some resentment may have been feeling envious or jealous rather than angry, bitter and oh…. even hatred. Personally, I am so pleased my heart sister beat me to it. She doesn’t think she planned her path well but she did and this blog is proof positive. She is certainly paving the way for me!

  3. I guess jealousy and resentment are part of human nature. Your friends will get over it, just give them time.

    About disengaging, that’s a normal process. I think about times when I’ve left one job for another – when you first give your notice, you’re very concerned about how your work will get done, leaving instructions, etc. But then, by the time the last day comes around, you realize if there’s anything you’ve forgotten in your instructions, they’ll figure it out! So, moving on is a natural process, and no one is indispensable.

  4. I am just checking in for the first time and am much older than most of your writers. Just wanted to make a remark that a psychologist friend once spoke to me about. Envy is when you have something or do something that somebody wants or does but it is okay if the other has it. Jealousy is when you don’t want them to have or do it. Envy is just fine as it can be a motivator but jealousy really tough on the other person.

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