I've just discovered another great benefit of being retired: being more comfortable being me.
From the clothes we wear, to the political views we express (or don't express), even the degree of delicacy we must adopt when interacting with others; we can't always be as relaxed as we want to be on the job. While some might relish being non-conformists at work, as Penelope Trunk points out, "it's not fun to be eccentric if you really are. It's only fun to be eccentric if you aren't."
Perhaps you've had a conversation with your boss where you held back your true opinion, or conversely regretted over-expressing your opinions in a round of office gossip. The truth is, we spend a fair amount of energy second-guessing ourselves in order to fit into the culture of our work environment.
Perhaps some of the anxiety people feel when adjusting to retirement isn't really the loss of their work identity, it's realizing that much of that identity wasn't even us to begin with!
I still struggle with what I consider to be my greatest flaw, wanting to be liked. But how much of what someone did or didn't like about me at work wasn't even really me?
Being retired, I'm not only discovering who I am without work, I'm finding that it's just a whole lot easier to go ahead and be her!
Amen. I can't tell you how much energy I spend trying to appear "normal" at work.
Posted by: Lise | September 22, 2008 at 12:57 PM
A really insightful post, and something I hadn't considered. I said for years that my job had actually changed my personality, and I think it did. In my office/organization we were strongly discouraged from speaking our minds and most of us learned to stifle our opinions. Maybe now I need to try and go back to who I was before, someone who liked to contribute and even occasionally speak up.
Posted by: RetiredAt47 | September 22, 2008 at 07:57 PM
@Lise and @RetiredAt47: Thanks for your comments, I was hoping I wasn't the only one!
Posted by: Retired Syd | September 22, 2008 at 08:19 PM
Wow, there's something totally new to think about. In all of my concern that when I retire there will be an enormous loss of identity I hadn't even begun to think that perhaps - just maybe - a good piece of the identity I'll be losing was never really who I was anyhow. That's quite the thing to think about. If I'm not who I've been, then who am I? There's clearly a journey in that!
Posted by: Sylvia | October 03, 2008 at 03:37 AM
That is the toughest part of what I do (alternative health care provider). I display a totally different persona at work in order to maintain a professional aura. I have to adhere to strict ethical standards (a good thing) in order to make it really obvious that the sessions are not about me. After 10 years it still bothers me when I'm asked a personal question. I have to skirt the questions without offending people. It is really difficult and takes a remarkable amount of energy to show forth a miniscule piece of yourself. Thanks for such an honest post.
Posted by: Early Retirement Middle Way | October 06, 2008 at 11:02 AM