It’s time to face the fear. Retirement from work is the alarm that signals impending aging and all the conditions that surround that state of being. There is no denying the already present aches and pains, that have been unwelcome but lingering for years. An injury or common cold recovery takes longer. More wrinkles and gray hairs cheerfully greet you every morning. Fear of ‘Where am I headed?” seeps in and can be paralyzing, creating a state of unexplained unhappiness.
That initial euphoria of the freedom from work passes. Well rested, eating healthy, and exercising regularly, you are feeling great. Visiting relatives and friends more and involved in some social and recreational activities keeps you busy, but doesn’t satisfy the way the job, that you couldn’t wait to leave and hate to admit, did. That retirement routine needs drastic treatment - of the shock variety. Otherwise, you may succumb to advancing the aging process faster than needed. Forget about facing the fear of aging or trying to avoid it. There is nothing you can do about that, regardless of the media blitz that broadcasts otherwise. Face the fears that you can overcome.
What has held you back all your life? I am not talking about your bucket list (places to see and things to do before you die) here. I am talking about what you have always secretly wished you could do or experience, but are afraid to try, because you fear failure. Aging experts (I am not one) say that fear of failure or rejection among the aging population has a more negative impact on happiness than the physical ailments we experience. Reluctance to put yourself out there breeds regret. This is your last chance.
At about midlife I read the quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Whether or not she said it, I recognized it as good advice for living a full life, and embraced it. I became bolder, not everyday, but as often as I could; I tried new things, befriended different people, took on more than I could handle. I was facing my fears, or so I thought. I retired happily, or so I thought. Something nagged at me.
I have always felt like a writer and could pen grants, policies, resumes for others without a qualm. My name wasn’t on anything, except the Alphabet Book, submitted to several publishers in 1992, promptly rejected by all. For over twenty years, that fear festered, buried deeply until time stretched before me in retirement. Free time nags at you to do the right thing. So here I am putting myself out there with this blog, trying to find my voice. And I am not taking it personally that no one commented on my last blog! I will pursue this desire to write and am so grateful that the Internet exists as a place for instant publication. I will have no regrets.
Advice whether you ask or not: Do just one thing in retirement that scares you.