So my life as a full-time student is almost over, and I’ve been reflecting recently about the whole experience.
Shortly after I returned to study the government proposed to increase the pension age to 70, and I jokingly referred to this period of my life as the retirement I will never have. Sure I had to go to uni, but there were consecutive weeks where I wasn’t studying or wasn’t on placement and I couldn’t cope. Don’t tell Joe Hockey, and please remind me of this statement when I’m older and want to retire, but working until I’m 70 (or at least working part-time) now sounds like a wonderful thing to me.
I didn’t know how to cope with free-time. I can completely understand why people find the transition to retirement difficult.
In my old life I was busy all the time. I got up when it was dark – I got home late and could often be found getting around to eating dinner at 9/10 o’clock. I wasn’t used to unstructured free-time and I didn’t like it.
Sure, I had more time to play golf, which I loved, but overall I found that I just frittered my time away. My house should have been spotless, I should have got through my big long “to-do” list. I should have done my tax return, and I should have been super-fit, because in theory I had so much time for exercise.
Unfortunately none of those things happened. I developed sloth like tendencies. I slept in. I became addicted to Midsomer Murders which was on tv every afternoon (is that better or worse than being addicted to Ellen?), and I was the most unproductive I’ve ever been.
I realised that the only time I felt normal and re-energised again was when I was on placement.
Sadly I realised that I missed working. What I really missed was the structure and routine working gives you. I probably also missed people contact. I also became boring – even more boring than normal. This was confirmed to me by my sister; she reminded me every weekend when we caught-up for breakfast that my stories were far more interesting when I was working. And to a certain extent work defines who we are.
It’s all very well to say that we need to stop more and smell the roses, but I was like a statue – motionless in a park, watching the world go by.
So I now sympathise with people making the transition to retirement. Not working is hard!
I’m not sure that I can work until I’m 70, but for now I’m coming out of retirement and will hopefully start working again or at least volunteering in order to find a happier balance that includes work.