Next weekend marks a year since I retired. Not that I actually retired then, I had some sabbatical leave owing, meaning that formally I retired at the end of April, but this time last year I was saying my goodbyes and wiping my work machines in the knowledge that at the end of the week I would walk out of the door and not come back.
It was a big change. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip and keep smiling but underneath I was a bit emotional. I was not just saying good bye to colleagues who were also friends, I was drawing a line under the world of work, which, strangely, mattered to me more than I thought, as it is through work we middle class professional males define ourselves as a person.
The weekend after I walked out the door I took most of my work clothes to the charity shop. I still have a couple of spiffy shirts, a dark jacket and some formal pants but since I left it has been t-shirts and jeans, plus a fleece in the colder months. I didn’t even wear socks until the weather turned cold at the start of May. After all, since I no longer work I don’t need work clothes. And I’ve shed other baggage as well. The professional memberships have gone, and I no longer have access to some of the professional online resources that having a university email address gave me.
As for work, a year on I can say that I don’t miss it. I thought that I might, but selling our Canberra house, moving to country Victoria, and the renovation of our new house has kept me so busy I havn’t had an opportunity to miss work, and, with a year away from work I’m finding I have more perspective on the infighting and the annoyances that a managerial role seems to entail, and am beginning to see the game for what it actually is.
There has of course been a process of adjustment, and recovery. At first I just felt very tired. I would get up and do things but I just felt tired and disinterested. That went in time and I began to feel more purposeful and began to blog again and to generally take an interest in things, and get annoyed at the stupidity of politicians – always a sign of an active mind.
And as I adjusted to not having a job and more importantly not having a defined role I’ve been able to start on some of the things I always meant to have a go at – nineteenth century history for example. (I would say I’m loosely gathering material for some future blog posts but at the moment it’s really just packrat behaviour with snippets and books.) But strangely, I do feel there’s something there that could be turned into something, I’d say a thesis topic, but in truth I’m truly done with academia.
I also have a garden to plant, a bicycle to start riding seriously again, and I plan to get myself a telescope for next winter to have a proper look at the planets for myself, so I’m not short of projects. Hopefully by this time next year I’ll even have a sense of direction again …