‘We are the resilient generation thanks to a lifetime of perseverance’

May 02, 2019
Baby Boomers have spent years conditioning themselves to persevere and be resilient. Source: Getty Images

Welcome to our golden years. Yes, folks, it is time for Retirement College! Where is Retirement College? A school not in any suburban small town. No, it is the school of our long lives we have survived to make it to 60 and beyond.

Retirement College is not like the popular University of the Third Age (U3A). In Retirement College, we can study or not, work or not, travel or not. We can still all earn a degree in surviving on a fixed income. This applies whether we are pensioners or self-funded retirees.

Many of us reached Retirement College by living through a school of hard knocks. Our parents survived the Great Depression, and brought us up on two quid (pounds) per week. They may not have been the touchy-feely yummy mummies, or fun time dads of today, but they knew how to manage on a budget, live within their means and how to persevere.

As a teacher and tutor for 43 years, I do notice that some of these millennials I am tutoring today do give up on things. We were educated differently, I guess. If we did not succeed at maths, for example, we had to sit and practise our sums until we could master maths. It was the same with essay writing or letter writing, reading maps or books with few pictorial images. Compare this to the way some children cannot do maths without a calculator, even if they can use one properly.

I am probably generalising, but some other teachers have also commented on this aspect of the millennial generation of scholars. Recently, I was reading about a young teacher who wanted to quit her profession after only two years. Similarly, 40-50 per cent of young teachers this year will leave teaching within five years of graduating. Do you consider they are giving up too easily?

Getting back to Retirement College though, the Baby Boomers learned not to give up, we had to persevere, to manage on limited income, to go without some stuff if it cost too much. One of my late mum’s favourite books was supposed to be written by a famous author, Emma Chisit. Sort of ironic. My younger sister asked for a new skirt. Mum, peeling potatoes, asked, “How much is it? No, wear the skirt I made you, we can’t afford that”. My older sister asked for a new handbag. Mum, sipping tea, predictably said, “How much is it? No, you’ve got a handbag, use that”! I wanted a new book. Mum’s familiar response, “How much is it? No, go to the library. They’ve got free books”.

That was part of our current Retirement College. I have one skirt I sometimes wear, one handbag, and go to the library weekly for free books. Old habits and early conditioning made the Baby Boomers the people we are today. We don’t give up, we persevered through divorces and health issues, grief and rebooting our lives. Welcome to being 60-plus.

What have you learned in Retirement College? Do you think the younger generations give up too easily when things get challenging?

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