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Mary Ann
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EMBRACING YOUR SENIOR IDENTITY

Letting go of your career identity can be surprisingly difficult.

Labels, such as friend, mom, dad, wife, husband, sister, and brother, are yours for a lifetime.  Identities such as Employee, Manager, Vice-President, Associate, Administrator, Co-worker, etc., usually end with your retirement.

Once retired, you may find yourself wanting to explain what you did and who you were.  This is referred to as the Denial Phase.  I’ve discovered in my life as a Retired Senior, new contacts are not particularly interested in my past career.  The Social Security office worker only sees the retired me.  In six months of retirement, I’ve evolved from introducing myself as a Retired Sales Manager to just saying, “Hi, I’m Mary Ann”.   Though it’s painful, I’m learning to let go.

As time passes,

even smoke and mirrors from the make-up counter no longer conceal our age.  I’ve already encountered an unsettling phenomenon.  Occasionally, I seem to become invisible.  This has occurred during conversations when I’m the Senior at the table and again when waiting in a service line.   That leads us to the next phase called the Anger Phase…..”What’s with these people, how can they ignore me and wait on that other younger person, I was here first. “ or, “I just asked that question and they totally ignored me. Why is he being acknowledged?”

Then we begin the Bargaining Phase….”Well, I’ll just go have my hair colored again and stop dressing like my mother.  Then I’ll be recognized as worthwhile. “That may make you feel better; and depending on the hair color, it could turn a few heads.  Unfortunately, time takes its toll on our appearance and even when we put forth our best effort, they still know we’re Seniors.

“What a total bummer.  No one cares what I’ve done in my life.  All people see is the outside and have no idea what I’ve been through. “ ………………the Depression Phase.  Hopefully, this one passes quickly.  If not, talk with Seniors you admire and ask for their guidance and support.

Finally,

the Acceptance Phase slips in one morning.  You look in the mirror saying;

  • You know, I’m incredibly lucky to feel so good today.
  • I’m going to use what I have to look my best.
  • My friends, family and pets appreciate me.
  • I can feel confident and good about the wisdom and knowledge I’ve retained over the years.  I will assume an Attitude of Gratitude!
  • Today, if I encounter indifference, I’ll offer kindness and patience in return because I’m an accomplished Senior and proud of it!

By now, these phases may seem familiar.  Actually, they are the Phases of Grief.  I chose this analogy because, for many of us, there is a grieving process in leaving a career behind and embracing your next chapter.   After a day at the zoo with her Senior group, I remember my Mom saying she was tired from pushing an old lady around in a wheelchair all day (my mom was 80).  I’m not sure she ever made it past the Denial Phase.

Stop by next Friday for my blog on embracing your retirement budget..……………..Mary Ann