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dealing with others perceptions of ER
Old 02-03-2012, 08:58 AM   #1
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dealing with others perceptions of ER

DH and I have been ER for almost six weeks, I am 49 and DH is 50. We also moved to a new area so we have been out and about and trying to meet different people. We live in a condo so we are also meeting lots of neighbors.

For some strange reason I feel awkward when people ask "What work do you do?"..... Sometimes I say nursing, but then the next question is "Where are you working"... that's when the awkwardness starts for me. I don't get why I am feeling awkward admitting to ER. I think it's because I don't want people to be jealous.... because unfortunately some people are. Even people in my own family. I feel like I have to "justify" ER even though my DH and I live a fairly modest life.

Has anyone else ever felt like this, and if so how did you handle it?
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:03 AM   #2
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Tell them you are "a self-employed financial manager for a private client".

Nothing wrong with the truth.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:30 AM   #3
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Most of us have gone through that. But it wears off. Now I get senior citizen discounts without asking and I'm only 57.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:46 AM   #4
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Has anyone else ever felt like this, and if so how did you handle it?
After 2 yrs I do feel like that. In fact, I secretly pray people won't ask me about w*rk.

I haven't figured out how to handle it. I tend to give different people different stories (engineer, former engineer, retired, semi-retired, on sabbatical, etc.), but I think that just makes things worse.
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:50 AM   #5
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These days, there is no longer any stigma attached to "unemployed", so you should be able to fall back on that until you get comfortable with "retired".
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:05 AM   #6
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What you think of me is none of my business...

Heck, I wor*ed long and hard to retire at an earlier age than most. I don't have to "justify" my actions nor my current status, at all. If others think less of me since I'm not in the work-a-day world, well that's their problem, not mine...
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:10 AM   #7
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Would you be more comfortable saying something like "I am a retired nurse"?

I am just a couple years older than you, so also tend to feel a little uncomfortable just plain saying "I am retired". Usually I answer the question more like "I am a retired software developer and now I teach knitting part-time". If you want to, you could fill in the "now I..." with something appropriate that interests you (could be a hobby, volunteer work, or whatever).
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by okbeachmouse View Post
...(snip)...
Has anyone else ever felt like this, and if so how did you handle it?
Yes, I've had the feeling. Am working up to using:
"I'm in the intelligence business". (I am an intelligent guy after all)

If asked for clarification, I'd say that I cannot discuss it further.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:13 AM   #9
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I've never worried about it. I just tell them the truth without any clever euphemisms, though only as much as they ask for, I am careful not to go on and on about it. But it doesn't concern me what others think - at all. Some are happy for me, some jealous, some curious, some surprised - none of those reactions are right or wrong, they're simply their reactions.

Just like sports, weather and politics are common conversation starters, "where do you work?" is a common conversation starter for strangers. The question isn't really even the point and the reaction isn't even significant though their demeanor may suggest otherwise. I am sure you've noticed that some people are positive & upbeat in their reaction to almost anything, and some are negative & critical in their reaction to almost anything - has nothing to do with your retired status.

Call it what you like, but letting what others think be that important is entirely in your control, no one can make you feel awkward, only you can do that (to yourself). YMMV
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:16 AM   #10
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When I was a young kid I use to wonder what others where thinking about me. As I got a little older I started to not care what they thought about me. Finally I realized they were never thinking about me in the first place!

When someone asks me what I do now I tell them I spend time with my family, travel regularly, go fishing often, and volunteer a lot since I do not have to w*rk anymore. Then I ask them if they are finding fulfilement in their lives. This does thin your so called friends some but the ones you want around now will not have a problem.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:23 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by okbeachmouse View Post
For some strange reason I feel awkward when people ask "What work do you do?"..... Sometimes I say nursing, but then the next question is "Where are you working"... that's when the awkwardness starts for me. I don't get why I am feeling awkward admitting to ER. I think it's because I don't want people to be jealous.... because unfortunately some people are. Even people in my own family. I feel like I have to "justify" ER even though my DH and I live a fairly modest life.

Has anyone else ever felt like this, and if so how did you handle it?
I am leaving in four weeks for ER. I am telling people now that I am taking a six month sabbatical to determine what I want to do in the next stage of my life (which is true, although I don't plan on being in the competitive workplace).

I expect as time goes on, assuming that I don't decide to teach, volunteer, etc., I am not sure what I will say. I may continue to use sabbatical without a time frame. Ask me in six months.

I don't necessarily agree with braumeister about there not being any stigma associated with "unemployed." One thing I am sensitive to is the number of people who are unemployed and looking for work, so I plan to avoid the use of the term "retired". I'm not worried about what people think of me for what I am doing, but I don't need/want to be poking people in the eye.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:45 AM   #12
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I have been ERd for 7 years. I used to grin and say, "I am gloriously retired." Now that I am 63 less people see it as a big deal.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:45 AM   #13
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I feel the same as the first post, it's awkward, mainly don't want to sound like I'm bragging. Usually I end with saying I'm jealous of people that love their job but I didn't so I had a plan to get out. I've also used "I'm a personal investor", it's a line I picked up somewhere on this forum.
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Old 02-03-2012, 10:59 AM   #14
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When DH retired (it's almost 2 years) it was quite awkward to says "he's retired". We've gotten used to it and I'm completely comfortable with it now. I wonder if people who know me and don't know him think I'm married to someone much older, he's actually a few months younger than me.

I'm one who just doesn't care what other people think. I like REWahoo's response of "a self-employed financial manager for a private client" but DH doesn't actually manage any finances except for the cash in his pocket. If he makes it to the end of the month and has any money left then he's successfully retired.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:01 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by okbeachmouse View Post
DH and I have been ER for almost six weeks, I am 49 and DH is 50. We also moved to a new area so we have been out and about and trying to meet different people. We live in a condo so we are also meeting lots of neighbors.

For some strange reason I feel awkward when people ask "What work do you do?"..... Sometimes I say nursing, but then the next question is "Where are you working"... that's when the awkwardness starts for me. I don't get why I am feeling awkward admitting to ER. I think it's because I don't want people to be jealous.... because unfortunately some people are. Even people in my own family. I feel like I have to "justify" ER even though my DH and I live a fairly modest life.

Has anyone else ever felt like this, and if so how did you handle it?
Why do you not want to answer, "I'm a retired nurse." Simple, clear, and truthful, and I think that would answer any questions. These days, nobody is jealous when you say something like that, because in the back of their minds they are thinking that maybe you are really unemployed and not wanting to admit it.

I do this and say, "I'm a retired oceanographer", and usually the next question is, "Where did you work?" I tell them, and the conversation drifts into other areas. Never a problem for me.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:17 AM   #16
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For some strange reason I feel awkward when people ask "What work do you do?".....
Give it some time and at some point, you'll find your groove and feel very comfortable in your new role. You spent many years working, so it'll take you a while to adjust to not doing so.

You're going to be fine!
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:18 AM   #17
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I completely understand your feelings. All of my friends around my age are still working (or would like to be - one is unemployed and financially struggling). But they have been completely supportive to a degree that surprised me.

That said, when meeting new people, I feel a need to say "I retired recently after 31 years in IT management" because everyone says I look too young to be retired. So I'm still not totally comfortable with the whole thing.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:18 AM   #18
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What works for me is to always include the "Early" with the retirement, seems to keep the discussion on a positive track.
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:35 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by okbeachmouse View Post
.....For some strange reason I feel awkward when people ask "What work do you do?"..... Sometimes I say nursing, but then the next question is "Where are you working"... that's when the awkwardness starts for me. I don't get why I am feeling awkward admitting to ER. I think it's because I don't want people to be jealous.... because unfortunately some people are. Even people in my own family. I feel like I have to "justify" ER even though my DH and I live a fairly modest life.

Has anyone else ever felt like this, and if so how did you handle it?
In 2 months I'll have been retired for 5 years...I bailed out at 50....and from day one, I've always just told anyone who asked, that I'm retired. If they press on and comment that I'm too young to be retired, I simply tell them that was one of the many benefits of choosing a job that had very good wages & benefits and an excellent retirement plan, as well as living below my means.....and staying there for over 30 years.

If people are truly jealous of my ER, that is solely 100% their choice, and it has no actual affect on me. Besides, I've found that very few folks are seriously jealous over my situation....although there are many who are just green with envy!!!
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Old 02-03-2012, 11:38 AM   #20
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I feel the same as the first post, it's awkward, mainly don't want to sound like I'm bragging. Usually I end with saying I'm jealous of people that love their job but I didn't so I had a plan to get out. I've also used "I'm a personal investor", it's a line I picked up somewhere on this forum.
I like this line. I either tell people I'm retired or a portfolio manager. Either way, it's a nice place to be.
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