65 years, 1 month. I am procrastinating. I intended to open this blog on my 65th birthday. Seemed like an auspicious time to begin ruminating about the meaning of “retirement” and the paths one follows into to retirement. As a “Retiring Professor,” I am in process…procrastinating, not willing to be there yet, but recognizing that change is in the air.
I hope to use this blog to reflect on how to approach and plan for the severing of official ties with my job – that would be both the emotional and the practical steps involved. Encounters with younger colleagues – keeping up or letting go; generational claims from family older and younger than I that create the need for a different approach to balancing career and family; threading my way through what I think of as the morass of “financial planning for retirement;” decisions about moving or staying put; thinking about who I’ve been and what I have yet to become.
I write not as a retirement expert. Indeed, I am, as the title suggests, a professor…of history at a large land-grant university. I have been a historian since the 3rd grade; I have taught history full-time for 22 years and as a teaching assistant or adjunct for another 7. Not as long as some of my colleagues who motored through BA, MA, and PhD without taking time off for life events, but long enough to have developed patterns of behavior that resist change. I will continue to identify as a historian no matter what position I hold, but I do wonder what that identity will look like and how I will shape it when ties to the institution are severed.
Friends my age have already taken this step—in this blog I invite their comments, their advice, and their guidance. For those younger than I, perhaps my musings will raise awareness of what I have successfully avoided and what they will eventually confront. I hope, too, to make this blog a place for sharing resources I come across as I work through this transition.
The new school year has just begun and I take up yet again the research, teaching, and service responsibilities that make up my job…nonetheless, I plan to write regularly, perhaps monthly at first as I feel my way into blogging as a new form of self-presentation. Perhaps I will begin with what I know best – the history of this stage of life we call “retirement,” or why I can, indeed, why I must retire.