‘I’m scared of becoming old and useless in retirement’

Jan 24, 2019
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Planning the transition to retirement can be pretty daunting for some. Source: Pixabay

Years ago I started a blog and when I recently reopened it, I was somewhat surprised to discover I’d not written anything since October 2015. What didn’t surprise me was that my last published post was a reflection on why I find it so difficult to press the ‘publish’ button without re-reading and editing a thousand times! It didn’t surprise me either to find numerous drafts assuring myself and my imagined readers that, from this point forward, things were going to change — I would write regularly, edit minimally and publish immediately! Yeah, right! No such assurances in this post.

What prompted me to return to my blogging? It was the holidays and I was looking after my granddog, Rowdy, while my daughter and her family were away. I had time, the lack of which is a poor but overworked excuse for not doing something, and I had none of the distractions of home. In addition, I have finally made the decision to retire in a few months and I am … (looking for the right word?) scared? Yes, scared is the right word! It will be wonderful of course to have more choice of activity, not to have to get up and head to work every day, not to have the daily struggle to stay awake on the M5 on the way home; to have time to do things like read and write, knit and crochet, quilt and walk; pursue my Italian language learning, go to more classes at the gym, go to daytime events at the art gallery and the state library, learn some new skills (I’m considering a class in drawing), do some volunteer work, connect with people without the restraints of work. Of course it will!

I have no doubt that I can fill up my time with activities that I will love without spending a fortune. Yet, somewhere in my mind (rather at the forefront, in fact) is the nagging idea that I will immediately fall into an aged coma that will prevent my brain from working, that my memory will get worse (and believe you me, it can’t afford to do that), that I will have no connection with anyone, that I will immediately and obviously become old! Worst of all, I will become useless! (At this point I am tempted to launch into a treatise on why being useful seems so intrinsically linked in our culture to the traditional concept of working, which of course it is not — but that might be another post — hopefully not another three years down the track!)

Here I am, deciding to write again; not making any high-minded statements about how often or how much, but simply hoping that I can do so first for my own pleasure and also as a means of connecting with others and starting conversations. Do I have to set myself goals and targets to ward off the dreaded aged coma? Do I have to plan every moment of my retirement in order to avoid becoming old and useless? Many times I have heard retired friends wondering how, in their now packed-full schedule, they ever found the time to work! Is that what I want? Surely not!

Already in this, the last long holidays before my remaining long service leave starts in March and my current working life comes to an end, I have set myself numerous daily tasks all aimed at keeping occupied and keeping my brain working and I have found myself, on occasion, wondering if I was doing those tasks for enjoyment or out of some sense of necessity. How ridiculous! If I continue like this, retirement will end up being just as stressful as my working life has been… And I won’t be getting paid to do it!

Are you transitioning towards retirement? Is it something you are scared of?

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