Yesterday, as we were out running errands, I mentioned to my husband that it was the 2-year anniversary of my retirement. His response was, “Wow, really? Time has gone so fast, hasn’t it?”
Yes and no.
Although he was right that the two years went by rather swiftly, I also feel as if I’ve been living my retired life for a long time… and I’m getting pretty good at it. In fact, I don’t really feel “retired,” as if that word defines a specific post-work chapter of my life. I’m not just moving through a phase; I am fully engaged in my life. The Spanish word for retirement is jubilación, which I think is much more fitting.
A few days ago, I was at an event where I didn’t know many people. I thought it would be interesting to do a little experiment if when anyone asked employment-related questions. I wanted to avoid describing myself as “retired” because I’ve found that often that word can be a dead-end to a conversation. I was interested to see if a different response could generate more engaging dialog.
It didn’t take too long to find myself in the familiar, polite back-and-forth that often occurs with a stranger in a social situation.
Polite Stranger (PS): What do you do?
Me: I dabble in photography, write a bit, read, and travel whenever possible.
PS: I mean, what work do you do?
Me: Some housework, although not as much as I should, perhaps. Also, yard work.
PS: No, full-time. I mean, what do you do full-time?
Me: Oh. I guess I don’t do anything full-time. There is so many great options that it would be impossible to pick something to do full-time.
PS: Really? Tell me about some of the things you are doing.
And, then the conversation really got interesting. I don’t think it came up that I was retired until quite a bit into the discussion. I also don’t remember if PS told me what kind of work she did… it wasn’t important. I learned some interesting things about her that had nothing to do with how she spent 8-9 hours of her day. Who we are is so much more than our chosen career. And, when we are no longer wrapped up in that career, being retired is just a single data point, not a description of who we are.
I am so grateful that two years ago I had the good fortune to be able to leave the work-world behind and embrace jubilación. The word may mean the same thing, but it sure sounds more like how I feel.