Search for meaning in early 30s retirement?

When I was in my twenties my friend Jess and I would often joke that we should retire whilst still young, and move in with our grandparents, and live out our days sunning ourselves at the beach, in between playing lawn bowls and drinking shandies. I would probably get a perm, and Jess would get a blue rinse. At the time Jess’ grandparents lived in Noosa at a retirement village, and my nana lived in Mooloolaba. We figured we could commute on the pensioner mini bus service you would probably get for some sweet pensioner rate. Fast forward around a decade later and I am currently living what I thought was my dream, but instead of playing lawn bowls and drinking shandies, I appear to simply water my mum’s lawn, and then drink Sauvignon blanc. And instead of a pensioner mini bus I get Ubers. Even retirement has evolved.

Mum and I on the sav blancs

I hadn’t planned to retire at 33. As you might already know, I had planned to go to Canada to work and give myself some time to try to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. However, then I met a handsome bearded giant, and decided I didn’t want to have a Skype relationship, I wanted to see his gorgeous face up close (note the use of the word ‘skype’. I am really embracing this retirement thing… who uses Skype anymore!?). So here I am, several weeks back from my overseas trip, living in my mum’s house at Mooloolaba (which use to be my nana’s house), looking after my mum who has recently had a hip operation. My apartment has been rented for three months to a diminutive travelling accountant named Jeffrey, who I constantly fear is using the air conditioning as I included the electricity in the price of the rent. When it’s a cold day I legitimately breath a sigh of relief as I know he won’t be needing the air con. When this is the main worry of your day you know you are in the throes of retirement.

Jess is yet to take the step into early retirement like myself, but the other day she came up from Brisbane for the night. She noticed that I kept calling things ‘reasonably priced’, like the Thai takeaway we got for dinner that I referred to as a reasonably priced meal, and then supposedly I said it the next day at lunch about this bar my mum and I frequent. I hadn’t really noticed this new tendency of mine but the day after Jess left I was walking into Coles, and two older gentlemen walked by. One was telling the other what a great price some item of his groceries was, and this was when I realised what Jess was implying: I am officially an old person worrying about how far I can stretch my retirement nest egg. Except the only difference is, my nest egg is somewhat non existent. Before I retired I made sure I ate every one of my eggs, and then pooped all over the nest for good measure. These old people don’t know how lucky they are to be squabbling over saving 50 cents on laundry detergent then probably going home to dive into their pools of money like Scrooge McDuck.

Walking along Mooloolaba beach

The plan was to give myself some time to decide what I wanted to do with my life. The first few weeks I floated between the giant’s pad, and mum’s coastal abode, which is where I am situated now for the next two weeks as prime carer for the land baroness. My days are a blur of food preparation, cleaning and making sure to fit in my afternoon nap. You might be thinking how bland this sounds but there is something surprisingly rewarding about my newfound temporary occupation. Prior to arrival at nursing HQ I had started to feel a little lost since arriving back from my trip. I had hoped to have had some amazing epiphany whilst I was away about what direction I should take with my life but sadly the closest I came to that was what Alex (the giant) and I named an e-poo-phany, which was the realisation that I didn’t mind going to the toilet in the wild whilst we were in Mongolia. And unfortunately I can’t see that opening too many doors of opportunity career-wise.

E-poo-phanies aside, from looking after mum I did have the realisation that what you needed in life to make it fulfilling was a purpose. Yet, not just any purpose, it had to be a purpose bigger than yourself and your needs. A true purpose is something that gets you out of bed in the morning. I don’t even think it needs to be that grand. It could be driving Uber after work so you can afford to go on holiday with your family. My life has always been so me-centric that when it came to the point of searching for meaning I was looking inward, instead of outward, which wasn’t serving me well to find this elusive purpose.

Therefore the search will continue for purpose and meaning, and maybe one day I will be lucky enough to find it but at the moment all I know is that I need a job. Any job. Not the amazing career job I thought I was meant to find but just anything which isn’t too horrible. All the down time has actually made me incredibly lazy. My apathy levels are soaring at a dangerous level. It seems like the less you have to do the harder it is to do anything. I was starting to wonder about the point of my existence, and that only leads to a downward spiral of an existential crisis. Never a good time. So as my excavation of human thoughts and feelings about life continues I will keep an eye out for any possible source of happiness and fulfillment, and try not to be too hasty in discarding that which might not seem like it is perfect, as essentially I know that we create our own destiny ,and purpose can be found in the most unlikely places. And that’s why life is so exciting.

Postscript

Several weeks later, after I ceased needing to look after my mum, I came back to Brisbane and started looking for work. Job opportunities rolled in but none of them seemed like they would make me happy. At best, they seemed like they would be tolerable. After one particularly bad day of two job interviews, one at a travel wholesaler, and another at a corporate travel agency (I was a travel agent for over 3 years before my quest for life satisfaction began), I came home and felt like my world had become a small sad sphere of career prospects that had me pigeonholed. I sat at my computer, and I thought about what I wanted to do with my life, and how I didn’t want to give up on my dreams and settle.

I decided I would go back to university to do a masters in writing, and work on my goal of becoming a full time writer. However, I unfortunately also needed money to live (and travel. That bug was entrenched. It was the tick that would forever poison my system. It was buried deep within my soul). I thought about what jobs would work with my newfound scholastic plans and decreed working in a hotel reception would be a great idea. That afternoon I applied for several jobs , that essentially I had no experience in, and a day later I received an invite to an interview for a part time guest service agent at a hotel. A day after the interview they told me I had the job.

Today was my second day at my new job, and I feel like I have found the facilitator of my goal for purpose and meaning. Sometimes you just never know if you are walking the right path until you are on it. And at the moment, it feels like I am skipping along it.

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