It’s hard to acknowledge that I follow a herd mentality. Life is defined by social norms. As social animals, we find life easier and more comfortable to adhere to group roles or mimic group behavior – it promotes safety, saves energy, and the approval is a source of pleasure.
So of course, given that almost my entire social sphere is still working, I’m more comfortable with being perceived as a part-time, free-lance worker. I “fit in” if I’m working. It allows me to keep a part of my former identity and the validation that comes with that identity. And being an early retiree, almost all my work colleagues assumed I would continue to work.
So, since retiring, I’ve continued to work part-time as a consultant in my field of expertise. Working is my herd mentality – comfortably adhering to group roles and expectations.
This past May, I got caught up in the work, not thinking about life. I returned to the regular work habits of years – juggling multiple projects, loving the fact I was being asked my opinion on things, but also not exercising, not blogging, not connecting with friends. Yes, I returned to my workaholic habits.
And I didn’t like it at all.
I’m not sure how to give up part-time work. Since I struggle with the workaholic tendencies, I think I need to. But it’s hard to be different from your social sphere. I’ve realized I don’t know how to “fit in” with friends or even how to live life if I’m not working as part of it.
How do I find a new herd mentality to become part of? How do I find a social sphere of (young-ish) retirees who are not working? Will this give me alternative role models and help me feel like part-time work is not the must-do to fit in?
Yes, there are many retirees (especially on line) who are not working. They are active travellers, active grandparents, and/or active hobbyists. I’m none of those things. I also know that, just like Facebook, you don’t see the total picture of other’s lives on blogs and I should not do any inferiority-focused comparisons. I guess I assume that by creating a IRL connections with a tribe of non-working retirees I’ll see more real pictures of how to live day-to-day life not working.
I’d love to hear your POV about this struggle of mine.
Picture Credit: Tim Doyle, Gnu Herd, Africa Safari 2017