Retired, but not over the hill

By May 11, 2019 May 20th, 2019 Retirement & Work

Retired, but not over the hill. That’s the theme around this blog in which the author shares what she doesn’t like about how people respond to her retired status. Something that we believe would resonate with most of our older folks. Team RetyrSmart

Retired, but not over the hill

I’m retired. It’s a label I honestly find to be uncomfortable, ageing and inappropriate. I don’t feel retired. But when someone asks me what I do, what am I supposed to say to explain that I no longer have a 9-5 job.

18 months ago, my husband and I were entrepreneurs and respected members of the local business community. Now we’ve been neatly labelled as ‘over the hill’ and ‘put out to grass’. Because that’s what it means to be retired, right?

Look up the meaning of ‘retired’ in the Oxford English Dictionary and it’ll tell you that the verb ‘to retire’ is derived from the French verb retirer, ‘to draw back’. It’s defined as:

• To leave one’s job and stop working, especially because one has reached a particular age
• To withdraw from a race or match because of injury
• To leave a place Saying the word out loud makes my heart sink

Saying the word out loud makes my heart sink.

There’s nothing wrong with being retired per se (in fact I whole-heartedly recommend it) but the conventional view of life conjured up by the label ‘retirement’ is what I dislike. It might’ve been accurate for our parents’ generation; for them, retirement regularly manifested itself as a carriage clock and glass of sherry with colleagues on a Friday followed by a cuppa in the potting shed and daytime TV on Monday.

Today, however, post-work life holds so many other possibilities. As a generation, we’re more affluent, healthier and live longer than our forefathers. So when Tony and I decided to sell our restaurant and wind down our events business, the plan wasn’t to take it easy, put our feet up and retire as many friends assumed. We were simply looking forward to the next new adventure.

The only ‘R’ words in our vocabulary are ‘recreation’ and ‘reinvention’. I think of retirement as a whole new career made all the more exciting because I can write my own job specification. My body might be older and need a little more TLC than it did 30 years ago, but in my late 50’s my energy and enthusiasm for life remains.

I want to use the experiences and knowledge I’ve absorbed over the years to explore new business ideas, to help others do the same, to volunteer, perhaps, keep active, travel and embrace the new technologies of the 21st century well into my 60’s and beyond.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ label that accurately describes how I feel about my current lifestyle. Perhaps it’s my imagination, but talking to millennials and their offspring about being retired seems to result only in a sympathetic smugness; sympathy for my advancing years touched with a smug confidence at their own youth and vitality.

Maybe I’m just jealous of all that time they still have, but it feels as if the conversation soon loses impetus. What would an old fogy like me know, anyway? Talk to someone from my own peer group about being retired and it’s a different kettle of fish.

Those still working gaze off into the mid-distance and wish they too could give up the daily grind. Those who already have waxed lyrical about going travelling, spending more time with family and friends, taking up new hobbies – only stopping to complain that there’s not enough time in each day to fulfil their wish list.

No-one talks about doing nothing or taking it easy – except in the context of falling into an early grave. Perhaps a change of pace might be called for, but retiring from life isn’t an option. Retirement as a label is outdated, outmoded and, in many cases, no longer fit for purpose.

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