What are the best and worst aspects of retirement? “The grass is always greener on the other side” is a quote we have heard over and over again in life when considering reaching too high and leaving a good thing behind. Most also remember “A bird in one hand is better than two in the bush.”
This kind of thinking kept me stationary and situated in a position far too long until I had no choice but to sit and wait. Had I made my move earlier in life, I may have found retirement much more attractive and lucrative. However, I found myself after 10 years vested, waiting for time to catch up with me and life. Then I could not make a move. It was too late, I had to wait or risk the possibility of losing everything I had fought hard to accomplish at a job where the fights for equality were almost daily.
I was maybe also a little too afraid to step out on faith per se. However, when it came to retirement, there was no question about it, I had to go. The job I had was very demanding: mentally and physically. I worked form 8 to 5 Monday to Friday. In management and being directly responsible for the activities of over 40 employees daily, the trials were endless. Not only was I required to be supervisor, I also had to be counselor, advisor, minister, lawyer, mediator, shoulder to cry on and more. One degree was simply not enough to prepare me for the trials of managing ‘people.’ While they would tell you everything, you were also required not to delve into their personal life. If not acting as if you cared, they began to complain that you had no concern about their personal well being: you were not a people person. When you did not listen, they complained. When you listened, they complained. The shoes I had to wear were far too many and placed on my feet far too often for the salary.
For years I had been praying to leave the position in hopes of moving on to a better one or one with far less stress. However, I also prayed for this job. When at the age of 23 and right out of college, I began looking for the perfect job. Back in those days, being African American, even with a college degree, it was hard finding a position equal to your qualifications especially in Pensacola. You would apply and apply and apply, with no calls. Even positions you were well qualified for were given to individuals far less qualified yet with fairer skin tones. Even after securing a position, the injustices continued.
After 33 years of unfairness, demanding requirements on the job, job duties tailored to your position but then the “and all other job related duties” tagged on which could encompass anything and everything yet no additional pay for duties far outside of your realm of responsibility, with no appreciation or recognition, there came a time when I said this is it. Retirement and having my pension in place made it okay, but not easy to walk out the door. There were many challenges in leaving. However, there were many benefits also. I chose to look at the benefits and not even think about the challenges until they presented their ugly heads. Even now, they continue to pop up at times. However, I made the best decision for my family and my peace of mind and I will stick to it.
Benefits to Retirement and Why
No worry – Not in the aspects of a job and all the politics of the job. Arising daily and not having to worry about the backstabbers on a government job is awesome. I worked at a company with so many backstabbers, you felt the knives piercing your back each time you walked the hall. There was far too much concern with others and not enough with yourself and performing your job. Management tended to nurture those who were the perpetual tattlers. Even upper management encouraged this environment. It became too much for me to handle. I had the fight in me, but felt the fight quickly being pulled out of me. I desired peace for the remainder of my life and at 58, who knows what my remaining time here will be. I chose to walk away and not be carried away. Each day now waking to peace is like Heaven.
Being able to set my own schedule – Never did I say to anyone I would not continue to work. I knew when I retired I would continue to work. I am a person who ha to have structure, I have to feel as though I am accomplishing something daily. I must achieve even now. I never have been one to not want to work. I now can work on my own terms not on a demanding 9 to 5. I did not desire eyes following and probing on every turn. I desired being my own boss, going and coming as I please and not having to punch a clock or call and report in when I felt I simply could not make it due to illness or need a day to myself. I however have three sons in college and each needs my help. So I knew I would have to continue working to help them out.
Not answering the phone – I began to hate hearing a phone ring. Now I have no problem with a constantly ringing phone from employees, supervisors or management or customers. When the phone rings, if I choose to answer, I can. If not, I do not. I found during the years, my nerves became shattered when the phone rang at work or home. I never knew what was on the opposite end. The demands of a government job which was regulated by board members with never changing policies made it almost impossible to know from week to week if a policy would remain the same or not. aAnd the bureaucracy of being in a customer service position where you handled customer issues based on the whim of political wishy-washiness was impossible to bear.
Cooking – I love to cook for my family. In the past, while working, the meals were quick, thrown together and sometimes I must admit, not the healthiest. When simply worn out, I would place a couple of hot dogs on the stove, can of chili and that was it. This was even during my sons’ growing years. I felt plenty guilty not being there to provide for them when needed. My mother was home when I got there from school. I had hot meals on the table and her love to keep my during those hard times. Many days, I had to call home and find my youngest home alone. This killed me. Now, even though they are grown, I feel I can compensate somewhat by preparing meals for them and have them ready when they get in.
Time – I felt as if the company I worked for stole plenty of my youth. In essence, I feel they completely drained me of life during my young years. I look in the mirror and eve though I am told I look far younger than my age, I feel that I have missed out on so much in life. I wish I had planned better, however, as it was I did not and having to work for a company that sometimes showed no concern for it’s employees made me feel quite angry. I feel the people who I worked for had no heart. Yet, the life I lived was not one of deprivation. So even though I am angry for the time spent giving them a large portion of the good years, I cannot demonize them completely. Now I have all the time in the world.