Having spent the best part of 4 years trying to find meaningful and suitable employment and having spent every euro of my savings in said quest ~ travelling to conferences, seminars and workshops to learn, keep abreast of new learning and network; paying subscriptions to professional bodies; trying to keep a ‘professional wardrobe,’ I have finally decided that the time has come to re-label myself as Retired.
I haven’t taken this decision lightly, I can tell you, and know that I still have a lot to offer the world, aged 56, through having a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy and years of work experience as a Social Researcher and Academic Tutor.
It’s funny how particular decisions that I took along the way have been playing on my mind of late ~ like the day I walked out of the Civil Service Exams when I was in my final year of College. It was a very conscious decision but who knows what might have happened had I stayed in that huge hall with the hundreds of other serious-looking candidates eager to land a permanent pensionable post. Or how about taking time out to care for my elderly parents while the Celtic Tiger was still roaring? (No, I have no regrets about that, not a single one!).
Ironically, the very first ‘real’ job I had was facilitating a Return to Work Course for Women when I had just finished my primary degree, aged 21. It was one helluva challenge, given my lack of insight into the world of work and life except through theoretical eyes, but it was a very enjoyable and well-paid learning experience.
Interestingly, I could get as much unpaid ‘work’ as I want now and was even offered a 40 hour a week ‘job’ for no pay and a vague promise of it maybe turning into something. The thing is, I simply can’t afford to work for nothing.
So, I’m taking Early Retirement. It may not change a thing in objective or financial terms (no golden handshake or pension here!) ; but it gives me a sense of taking back control. There is a limit to the number of punches one can take to the gut and I know that I’ve done all I can, with my innate tenacity, in terms of knocking on doors, building new ones and all that stuff.
So, today is the first day of the rest of my life ~ not a day I envisaged coming, or wanted to come, as early in my life as this.
Little did I ever think I’d be quoting this old saying but then whoever knows what lies ahead!God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. (R. Niebuhr)