In 2006, I started the biggest transformation of my life to date. On September 1 of that year, I retired from my career of 32 years. Earlier in the day, I had been out-briefed and my security clearance suspended. That day, as I left the building for the last time, I turned in my building pass and suddenly, I was no longer an employee. It was an odd feeling. I was 51 years old.
The day had been coming for a while. Months back, one day when my boss and I were lamenting about the day. She said that she would like another job, and I said I wanted to retire. I had not spoken that out loud until that day. The previous years had worn me out. I spent 4 years trying to manage under another lady boss that resented other women, and got her kicks out of humiliating people. She attempted to do that to me, I didn’t allow it and after that, I was treated like I didn’t exist. It wore on me. Then finally she left and I was asked by the new boss to become the acting Deputy Director of our agency, while she was the acting as Director. I liked this new boss personally, but she was high maintenance. My husband, 4 years retired, was anxious for me to retire.
I had to apply to retire early, and in July, my request was approved. My husband was happy, but I wondered what I had done. I liked my co-workers, I liked my job, although I knew I would have to move on at some point. And there was the problem – I couldn’t think of where I wanted to go.
The first two weeks after I retired, I felt like I was on vacation. It’s a wonderful sense of freedom. But by the 3rd week, I realized that this was my new reality. One thing no one realizes, until they retire, is that the natural social life that we participate in, in the workplace, is gone when you are retired. But worse than that, I realize how deeply tired I was from a couple of years of 14 hour days in my last job. It took me 6 months to get enough rest. The second big transition is when I realized that I was no longer my job. People no longer listened to me because I was an “expert”. There was no work to talk about. So I had to develop interests that I had never had time to do before. I took a drawing class and found art, and it was later a life line when I moved to Alabama where I knew no one, but was able to find a class.
I’m now retired 10 years and I wonder if my old colleagues would recognize me. I’m much more relaxed, more patient (well, most of the time) and I’m more creative. The transformation from working to retired is complete; but as I have found, I no more get one transformation accomplished, then their is another – going from my middle years to my senior years. But that is the subject for another time.
Until next time, Elsie