I “retired” from teaching in the public school system at the age of 51, after a 29 year career. But weird things started to happen: People would ask me, “What do you do?” and if I told them I was retired, they would give me that very strange “You’re Not Old Enough” look. Some of my friends told me that I had not retired; I had “Just Quit.” And that got me to really thinking about what “retirement” is and is not. So here’s my list of the things that “retirement” definitely IS NOT:
- It’s NOT an age – Yes, I’ll be happy when I get to collect Social Security (if it’s still around), but I’m not letting some “age” define when one career ends…and another adventure begins!
- It’s NOT the end – I think some people view retirement as that point when they will stop having a job, will stop getting up and going to work, will stop trying to earn a living. Let me just say this: YUK!!! I can’t imagine anything worse! Now I’ll admit that for that first couple of weeks, it’s kind of nice not to have the responsibilities of heading off to the job, and to be able to go to a coffee shop instead. It’s nice to feel like you can get caught up on all those “weekend chores” – I learned to LOVE doing the laundry in the middle of the day! But after a couple of months, we realized retirement isn’t an end, it’s a new beginning…
- It’s NOT a time when you stop being what you were before – Jeremy has been involved in an on-line discussion with other architects about “When Does an Architect Really Retire?” The consensus in his field is that they really don’t! Architects will ALWAYS be designing and creating. It got me to thinking. You don’t really “stop being…” you just change it up! I’ll always be a teacher at heart. Now I have the opportunity to decide where that teacher spirit should take me next. If you examine your passions and your dreams, and combine those with your strengths and talents, retirement becomes not a stopping point, but a changing point!
- It’s NOT Boring! – I’ve heard so many people say that they are afraid to retire because they are afraid of becoming bored. Well that only happens if your vision of retirement is sitting in a recliner, staring at the TV. I saw a post on Pinterest that said that “you have learned exactly 0%” about the world we live in. One of the best things about the Encore Voyage is the ability and time to learn new things and chase new interests. How cool is that???
- It’s NOT the end of opportunities – When I first quit teaching, the two things I missed the most were the children and my interactions with my colleagues. And then I realized that those things didn’t necessarily need to stop. I just needed to find new opportunities to get those experiences. Now I do a little freelance work for a neighboring school district. I make it a priority to stay in contacts with my teacher friends. I’m finding new ways to stretch my professional strengths in new ways.
The point is that this retirement thing is not necessarily an end of anything. We didn’t stop our careers; we just started a second act – an Encore Voyage. I hope you’ll continue to check back to see all of the fun experiences we’re having this second time around!