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Who am I?
Old 09-05-2008, 09:27 PM   #1
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Who am I?

After retirement (and aging) I was not: parent, child, student, teacher, employee.

Now I have lost other definitions of self:

I have lost 80# and this body and what it does is new to me.
(My identity as a fat person is gone.)

After years of retirement I have lost my fear/avoidance of people and have slowly tried making social connections.
(My identity as a hermit/curmudgeon/cynic is mostly gone.)

As the symptoms of stress have gone away I have nothing to replace them; I didn't like them, but they were part of my identity for a long time.
(Being happy/content is a new identity.)

What is left?

Do I need an identity or purpose or definition?

These musings don't threaten or frighten me; I just wonder what I'll find when I finally reach the bottom after all that digging.

Maybe I've discovered why sometimes people don't want to retire.

For unclemick: Ralph?

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Old 09-05-2008, 10:55 PM   #2
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Congratulations on reinventing and rediscovering both body and mind. Whether by accident or design, change is the only constant in life.
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Old 09-06-2008, 03:26 AM   #3
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Khan, this is an interesting area. Recently in another context I came across Erickson's theories of psychological development.

The two that concern most people in ER are these:
Quote:
caring - Generativity vs. Stagnation - the Mid-life crisis. Measure accomplishments/failures. Am I satisfied or not? The need to assist the younger generation. Stagnation is the feeling of not having done anything to help the next generation.
wisdom - Ego Integrity vs. Despair - old age. Some handle death well. Some can be bitter, unhappy, dissatisfied with what they accomplished or failed to accomplish within their life time. They reflect on the past, and either conclude at satisfaction or despair.
Erik Erikson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It sounds like we are pretty different people.. and I haven't made significant changes in my outlook, personality or physical state.. but I am starting to think about this "generativity" issue. Especially if one doesn't have kids (we don't), and now one doesn't have paid work.. there aren't external situations that press for attention and energy. Being cut loose from our past identities IS challenging, and I do have very equivocal feelings about it; in my case it's also a matter of establishing a new identity in a new country, which I haven't undertaken in full.

Probably many people think it's fantastic to be able to slough off their jobs and retire to Italy but it's far from a non-stop idyll. Once you explore what you want to explore you have to shift out of tourist mode and face the same "whadda do all day" questions as does anyone else.

What is GREAT is that "being happy/content is a new identity" for you!!! It sounds like the next step is to share that with someone (whether with a partner or social group or in some other activity).. spread it around!

I may never return to paid work, but I, too, now understand why people might not want to retire. I need to sit down and think hard about what 'identity' I really want to develop for the next few decades. For a while you can putter along on the fumes of past accomplishments.. but I'm feeling a need for new "steam". There's a real risk of falling into complete irrelevance and I can see painful psychological repercussions from that on the horizon.
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Old 09-06-2008, 07:34 AM   #4
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What fabulous insight Kahn. I didn’t realize until you mentioned it that I too am uncertain of my identity. Being happy and content is my condition also. Sometimes I feel guilty about feeling so happy when so many other people are struggling with their work.

Nice bird too.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:34 AM   #5
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Kahn , great insight . I ,also have changed my identity several times from a wife and mother to a single woman back to a wife and mother and then to a widow and finally to a retired person . Each identity has required me to change in various ways . I see many people go thru these things but refuse to change . Change is frightening but staying stagnant is worse .
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
Kahn , great insight . I ,also have changed my identity several times from a wife and mother to a single woman back to a wife and mother and then to a widow and finally to a retired person . Each identity has required me to change in various ways . I see many people go thru these things but refuse to change . Change is frightening but staying stagnant is worse .

It occurred to me that people sometimes hang on to their misery because it's what they are accustomed to.

In a certain way I almost miss being miserable: I understood it and was good at it. Now I have to figure out to be happy. Am I going to be one of those 'annoying happy people?
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:38 AM   #7
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Khan, I like your posts because they are inward-looking, rather than outward-looking, as most posts are in this forum. Although I am exactly the opposite of you in what you have listed, that does not free me from the same question. However, I am guided in life by two things: first, "Do no harm" and second, "Happiness is the goal my life". I am glad you are pursuing the second. As Spock said - Live well.
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:47 AM   #8
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confuse not identification with application. it less true that you are what you eat; rather that you are your appetite.
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Old 09-06-2008, 04:28 PM   #9
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Wow, Khan, I've been thinking the same thing. I don't have the difference in body image, but am not/no longer a child, parent, employee, student like you said. And now that I too am losing the hermit/introvert thing, that's a little unnerving. Sure, I'm gaining more of an extroverted nature and more social connections, but I will never be an ultra-extrovert and will probably always be a more successful, if unhappy/unfulfilled, introvert than an extrovert. It does feel weird to think that if I took the MBTI, I may no longer be an INTJ!

Other areas where I am not quite one or the other and don't have a stable/fully realized identity:

* Vegetarian
I'm long-term in that area, but now there's veganism, which I strive for sometimes but can't fully do. So it's like I don't have a full-fledged identity in the meatless/animal cruelty area.

* Age
Nearing 55---am I a senior or not? Some places give discounts for people 55 "or better," but others consider only over 60 or 65 to be a senior.

* Baby boomer status
No doubt that I am, being born in 1954, but I belong to two baby Boomer Meetups. In one, I feel old because everyone is in their forties. In the other, people are over 62 (and not baby boomers), but they prefer that designation to seniors.

* Being a reader
I used to love to read and spend a lot of time doing it---now it seems like I don't put as much time or concentration in it. (Too much Internet, perhaps?)

* Being a foreign film fan
Used to love them---now some of them seem so boring and slow.

* Helping others
Not only have I lost my identity as a worker, I've lost it as someone who helped others in human/health services. Am I still a good person if I'm not doing anything to help anyone else? (Have looked into volunteer opportunities, none excite me).
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Old 09-06-2008, 04:39 PM   #10
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Hmmmm - a little bit ago I mowed the lawn or at least 3/4 of it. The rain came so I quit.

I was ok with that. There was no item on a list real or mental that I couldn't check off as complete.

I vaguely sense there is sometime quasi- Buddist in all this - but I'm not Buddist so that is ok also.

heh heh heh - Jan 1, 2009 I can check off 15 yrs of ER - or not if I'm in the mood. . Say hello to Ralph for me. .
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Old 09-06-2008, 05:26 PM   #11
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Every time I see your thread title, Kahn, I know i need a musical theater fix. Next week for sure.

Good topic.
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Old 09-06-2008, 06:06 PM   #12
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Who am I?

bewitched, bothered and bewildered.......
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Old 09-06-2008, 06:24 PM   #13
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Khan, I share many of your doubts, fears, and hopes. This thread brought this song to mind:

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Old 09-06-2008, 06:43 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Khan View Post
After retirement (and aging) I was not: parent, child, student, teacher, employee.

Now I have lost other definitions of self:

I have lost 80# and this body and what it does is new to me.
(My identity as a fat person is gone.)

After years of retirement I have lost my fear/avoidance of people and have slowly tried making social connections.
(My identity as a hermit/curmudgeon/cynic is mostly gone.)

As the symptoms of stress have gone away I have nothing to replace them; I didn't like them, but they were part of my identity for a long time.
(Being happy/content is a new identity.)

What is left?
Seems to me that you have gained an identity as one who truly enjoys being fit and healthy. Likewise, you are becoming a happy, contented extrovert. I would add the identities of independent philosopher and friend of squirrels.

It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with changes. The alternative to change is being rigid and stagnant, neither of which is a very pleasant sounding word.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Khan View Post
Do I need an identity or purpose or definition?
Or, do you want one?

I think you have a very good handle on what is important to you. So, I'll leave the answer of that question to you.
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Old 09-06-2008, 07:48 PM   #15
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I am still pretty young but when I look back there is no doubt that I went through a number of definite changes throughout my life. My interests have shifted, my goals have changed, my perspective on life has evolved and my personality has most definitely been reshaped by my life experiences. It's all good though. Who am I? Still me... by definition... I don't feel the need to juxtapose suffixes to my name to define myself beyond that.
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Old 09-06-2008, 07:59 PM   #16
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I am:
- a father, a husband
- becoming, a student again. This is by far the most exciting part of my new life.
- very interested in science and technology
- eating better
- more relaxed and appreciative of life
- annoyed at the state of the stock market
- bit worried about making a positive contribution to society

After 26 years of the "path of w*rk", I look forward to this path of semi-retirement.

Don't know where it will lead, and didn't have firm plans for this phase.

Am wrestling with some of the fears, and resisting urges to seek comfort in the "world of w*rk", including the temptation to look at ads that present opportunities to return to w*rk".

Best thing happening right now is that I have a full schedule, and w*rk doesn't fit.
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Old 09-07-2008, 11:25 AM   #17
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I love the posts you have been coming up with Khan!
Congratulations on losing the weight, your hermit ways, and retiring!
I am in the process of finding out who I am also and it is absolutely awesome. I know for sure that I am not a 9-5 kind of girl. I want to work on my terms doing things that make me happy. I just had a session with my life coach and it was awesome.
Our natural way of being is to be happy and content....connected to our source of being (God, Higher Power, etc.) and to help others. At least that is what I am finding out for myself. I am creating my life according to what fulfills me completely....not what is acceptable by society. Now that I have taken the first major step by elaving corporate america...things are just manifesting in my life. I used to question my parents when they would tell me to get good grades, get a good job, and get married....then I could have all the fun I wanted. Why does life have to be like that? Why can't one have fun the whole time rather than a few years? I think we have been brainwashed by society.
I don't think you need an identity.....I think you just need to have fun being who you are in this very moment.
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