One of the things I have realized since retiring is that most working professionals treat the unemployed and retirees as nonentities. People who fall into these categories have no value in terms of networking or connecting for personal and professional gain or advancement. We are nobodies even if we were somebody at one time.
More than a few people have told me that I am too young to retire and seem incredulous when I tell them I do not miss work in the least. I enjoyed my students, I liked most of my colleagues, the freedom to do my own research was incredible, and the international travel and grants were beyond compare. I did what I wanted to do and now I am done. Still some people persisted like the ones in a John Lennon song:
“. . . they give me all kinds of warnings
To save me from ruin
When I say that I’m okay, well they look at me kinda strange
“Surely, you’re not happy now, you no longer play the game”
A smaller number of people have informed me that there is a positive correlation between early retirement and early death among white, male professionals. This is probably true especially among university faculty. I associate it with the fact that most of my university colleagues had no life outside their teaching and research. They lost their lives, identities and purpose when they retired. Death followed. I started developing an “outside” life in my early 40s. Somehow, I did not think I would reach my finally hours of life wishing I had worked a little longer or published just one more article.
While I am enjoying this phase of life, I must admit that I find it a little annoying to be treated like a nobody when I am somebody. We are all somebody. I could recite my abridged CV, only 20 pages, but that would be so desperate, even pathetic. Instead, I decided to create a new identity after someone asked me for my card at a recent event.
If you have a card, then you become somebody. My card identifies my new life and what I do. I used my first one just a few days ago. The person was impressed and wanted to know how I had created a job that consisted of cycling, traveling, and photographing the world. I shared a little with them and then moved along as my wife wanted to introduce me to some other people. I would have stayed longer to chat but I am a busy man. I am somebody!