I think I may be too young to live in a retirement community. When I was still living in the working world in my old state, even though I had stopped working, my brain sort of defined my retirement as “I’m being rewarded for working so hard and doing such a good job.” When I moved to my new state, to a community where the average resident is probably a generation older than I am, my brain quickly started defining my retirement as “I’m too old to work.”
It is a little odd. I have almost always been the youngest in whatever circle I have orbited… at the workplace, amongst my friends, in my extended family. As a result, I’ve usually felt even younger than I actually was. I had just started feeling a bit wizened when I retired and moved to my over 55 community, which I lovingly refer to as “God’s waiting room.” I thought that this return to being the youngest kid on the block might bolster up that youthful feeling, but no such luck. I am actually feeling older. I’m not sure why, because the folks in this community are incredibly active, involved, and energetic. They play tennis, power through exercise classes, volunteer, run countless activities and events at the community clubhouse, and always seem to be popping out somewhere in their souped up golf carts.
The friends I left in my old state are starting to refer to themselves as my “young friends,” even though they are older than I am.
The truth about my retirement is probably somewhere in between. The good people of the United States are paying me a lifetime pension as part of my long term employment contract, not as a special reward for doing a really good job. While I don’t believe I (or most anyone else, for that matter) is incapable of work after age 55, I do believe that we are each born with some finite quantity of patience, mental endurance, and tolerance for frustration and obstacles. I think mine was just about depleted. I could feel my “bounce back” mechanism getting a little less bouncy over the past couple of years, but I don’t think I realized how low the tank was really getting. I shudder to think how that paucity of patience must have manifested itself under the daily schedule of frustrations that simply just exist on any job. When I moved and began dealing with the myriad of issues related to a major life change, it became clear to me that the slightest little setback caused me to react with disproportionate frustration. Any little thing that didn’t go exactly as I planned might start me crying and plummeting down the road to despair.
I’ve had numerous opportunities to observe this reaction, as there have been so many setbacks in dealing with the house, the lawn, moving my mother to her new home, getting a new washer and dryer, etc., etc., etc. It isn’t pretty and I’ve noticed my mother is starting to be afraid to open the mail or take a phone call because she is sure the communication will mean some new setback that will cause me to disintegrate before her very eyes.
I’ve taken to purposefully maintaining a calm, albeit artificial, exterior over everything I can now. I’m no idiot and I could see that my freak outs were not doing any good and just feeding into the frenzy of everyone around me, like my mother and Max. I am embracing the mantra, “pretend until you are” and acting like I’m mildly amused rather than completely freaked out when something isn’t happening the way I think it should. It is hard work and I’m not sure I’m succeeding, but maybe I’ll improve with practice.
And maybe that finite quantity of patience, mental endurance, and tolerance of frustration and obstacles will regenerate itself when I finally stop drawing from it on an hourly basis, as I did while I was working. Keep your fingers crossed!
So what do you think? Is it possible to regenerate stresshardiness? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a wonderful day!