A member's view of friendship in retirement...

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“How’s your retirement going?”  That’s what everyone wants to know since I stopped working and it’s likely to prompt my best death stare.  “I’m not retired, I’ve just stopped working in the paid sense, that is.  I’ve moved to a different stage of my life”.  “Like retirement” I can see them thinking.

I’ve yet to meet anyone in the same boat who says they have time on their hands.   I found lots of things to enjoy, like not having to get up in the dark and travel home in the dark in Winter, making a cup of tea and crawling back into bed with it, watching things grow in the garden in the Spring, meeting friends for coffee, going out on work-day nights and not having to get home early.  Basically, changing gear and enjoying the view.  

Stopping work does take time to adjust to though and I was nervous about how I might fill my time.  I didn’t want to end up watching day time telly and living in my PJs.  I’m an unapologetic list person, I like a plan so I revisited my big picture life plan and guess what? the next big things on it were transitioning gracefully away from work (the “graceful” bit was really about not making a big fool of myself on the last day by crying in the loos) and finding my tribe.  Now I’m not descended from a native tribe in a far-away place, this one was about finding people who shared my values and interests.  People whom I felt comfortable with.

My job had been full on for a long time and as my partner and I had relocated to a new area ten years’ earlier I had begun to lose contact with old friends and not had time to make many friends locally.  I wanted to do something about this but didn’t have any idea how.

It’s now 9 months since I left work and so far, I haven’t regretted it for a minute.  I promised myself that I wouldn’t rush into committing to too many things.  I noticed that I enjoyed the sense of freedom that having no obligations brings.  I’m no longer responsible for a team, for a budget and I don’t have deadlines, or if I do, they are within my control.

I’m passionate about lifelong learning so I took a few short courses at a local community hub, including Creative Writing as one of my goals had been to “write something”.  Following that, I set up a book group with a lady I met there and I also joined a writing group.  The members of both these groups have now become friends.  I volunteered as a befriender with Age UK and met a lovely and very wise lady of 92 who is also now my friend.    Through my partner’s sister-in-law I joined  togetherfriends and met a wonderful group of ladies.  We meet for lunch, walks, theatre trips and have a laugh together. 

Suddenly I had found my tribe and it seemed I had done it without any effort.   I look back and wonder how it happened so easily when I thought it would be difficult.  I believe the answer is very simple, I opened myself to the idea and didn’t turn away when opportunities came along, whereas before there was always a reason why I was too busy.  I’m more relaxed and I’m having fun …. except when someone mentions the “R” word.

If you have recently retired and are looking for new friends, join togetherfriends