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.
QUESTIONS FOR THE CRONES:
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