Yes, folks, we just realized that we are a retired couple, but not retired in the conventional sense. Our retirement is not related to winning the lottery, cashing in on Chipotle stock (missed that one!), nor is it related to us finally reaching our “elderish” (Emma’s word) age.
We have retired from THAT race.
You know what race I am referring to, don’t you? Yes, the rat race. More precisely, the STATUS race. The race is universal, unavoidable, and you tend to stand out when you decide to not participate in it. You get judged by your peers and family. Questions about what we are doing are really disguised as opportunities to enlighten us that we are going the wrong way.
The next time we hear questions like, “What do you do?” “What do you do, all day?” (really?) or, “Do you have a business here in (insert Asian county name here)?” we will answer, “We are retired.” Short and simple. Enough is enough.
We (Aye and I) are retired from the race to move up some academic or corporate ladder. Department chair? Dean? Pass. Please. Director of an NGO? No thanks. We are retired from the goal of a six figure annual salary (note that I said salary, which is very different than our long term investment goals). Retired from feeling the need to wear academic credentials on our sleeves to someone new we will meet, just in order to fit in it or elevate ourselves. Our occupational titles do not define us. We are so much more.
We are retired from needing to prove that by achieving ‘status’ we will achieve a higher level of happiness. A big house with walk-in closets filled with a ton of clothes didn’t do it for us. We had two houses. Yup. We had everything we needed. An Armani suit, Tesla car, or a Rolex won’t make me any more important than I am right now. I’d rather spend my money that gives my family enriching experiences, and an insane 80″ tv from my beloved Costco won’t do that. Why watch the Travel channel in 4k resolution when we can see those places with our own eyes with that cash? I think our eyes are high def, right?
I am also retired from needing to prove to others that I am good enough husband or father, or that I am capable of providing for my family to someone else’s standard. Judge all you want, as long as we are happy, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone else. For us, trying to impress or appease others by chasing higher status is a huge waste of time and energy. HUGE!
We are retired from using our child as a means of competing with other families’ kids just to feel better about ourselves. It’s great that your kid scored a 1600 on the SAT, won a gold medal, got into Harvard, became a neurosurgeon, or is a famous chef on t.v. We are happy for you. Really, that is awesome! We want Emma to be Emma, not to be “better than so-and-so’s kid.” By telling her, “Why don’t you be like Jane, who achieved this or that?” I would basically be telling her to not be herself. Why on earth would I do that?
Retirement is not about giving up or losing something valuable, but gaining what is important to us.
We no longer need to look forward to retirement. We had already retired back in 2010!
We Say YES to Attitude of Gratitude.
We Say NO to the Status Quo.
Live Small. Live Green.
Give Large. Take Little.
Take Notice. Take Action.