In two short months I will be retired. I've done the planning, the saving, and fantasized about it non-stop. But now I wonder, what will I TELL people? What if someone meets me and asks what I do for a living? What do I put on the form for "occupation" at the dentist's office? What if my hair stylist asks me how things have been at work since I saw her last? I'm embarrassed to be retired, and not for the reasons you might think. I'm embarrassed that I have enough money to retire!
What is it about money that makes me weird? I don't want people to know I have it. While people that know me well probably have some sense of my financial situation, they already know me and (hopefully) love me. Their opinion of me has already been formed. It's the new or casual acquaintance I am concerned about here. How will their newly forming opinion of me be influenced by the revelation that what I do for a living is nothing? I'm not sure if other people feel this way, but I think I have money issues.
I'm afraid people will make assumptions about me that aren't really true, primarily that I have so much money that I don't have to worry about it. Believe me, I have to worry about it. I'm 44; for two of us to be retired for maybe 50 years, we will have to worry about money, how to invest it and how NOT to spend too much of it. My contrasting fear is that I'm afraid people will think I didn't earn the money, that someone gave it to me; or assume that my husband works, and so my being "retired" is a euphemism for my being a "lady who lunches."
So why do I care what people think? Apparently, I am not alone. I recently asked a young, retired friend of mine what she tells people that she doesn't know very well what she does for a living. She has the same problem. She tells people "I'm not working right now," or "I'm between jobs," or she says that she "used to be in finance." She too, is embarrassed to tell people she has just met that she isn't working and that she possibly would never work again.
I had the same issue years ago when my husband and I bought a vacation home. Friends and family, of course, knew about the house. But I steered conversations with casual acquaintances away from what I might have done this weekend to avoid discussions that might lead to the revelation that we had a second home. Similarly, I was embarrassed to invite newly acquainted neighbors to parties at our house because they would see that we had hired caterers, and what might the think of us then!
So it is with retirement, the dilemma of facing my money issues and my unhealthy need for approval. While I could tell people I meet that I'm "deciding what to do next," or "taking time off," I think I'll try something like "I'm a writer," or "I write for a retirement blog." Never mind that I only have twelve readers!