Friday, October 2, 2015

Retirement guilt

I had lunch this week with several of my former coworkers. All of them lost their jobs the same day as me (14+ months ago now)(!), or in a subsequent round of cuts that's taken place since then.

All of them were long-serving (10-25+ years) employees in their late 40s/50s. All of them are well-educated, highly qualified, hard-working people. Most of them have families & mortgages. They want to get back to work. They NEED to get back to work.  

It's been 14 months. None of them have found jobs yet.

Much of the conversation revolved around job search stories & tips. (The consensus was that employers are being extremely picky, searching for the elusive perfect candidate who ticks all the boxes on their wish list -- not just some, or most. Nobody gives you the courtesy of letting you know that you didn't get the job, or providing a shred of feedback on why. Automated systems and HR suck;  networking is critical to getting your resume in front of an actual human being who has power over hiring decisions. And yes, maybe there's some ageism at work, too.)

Since I'm not looking for a job (& probably won't be anytime soon), I stayed mostly silent. Once again, I felt guilty that I've managed to get off relatively scot-free, compared to my peers. (And worry that I haven't made the right decisions, and will wind up being a bag lady & eating cat food when I'm 85.)  What makes me so special, right?

And then I remember: Oh yeah. The reason I can do this is because my daughter died before she was born (and I was never able to have another baby), and we were able to sock away the money we would have spent on our family towards the goal of an early retirement. Even when that retirement happened a little earlier than we'd planned, we'd done enough of the right things that we'll be OK.

But I'd still rather be looking for work, if I could have my daughter here.

Think anyone would want to trade places with me, if they knew all the details? :p


  1. Honestly, yes and no. No if they not only knew the details, but also if they were truly able to live through some of those details. No if they could truly walk in your shoes. Hence the yes. When struggling to find work, there is this ongoing stress where they are seeking relief. Sometimes to the point of making deals with the devil.

    I'm sorry you have guilt over all of this. You're absolutely right, though, that your present situation wasn't one that came frivolously.

  2. And I am in the place of your coworkers, needing a job, unable to find one (I agree with their assessment if the job market), even though we've been able to save (probably because we don't have kids), we don't have enough to retire on yet (and we still wouldn't even if we hadn't travelled so much). So I say, please don't feel guilty. You've worked hard, and made the most of the life you've been given, and deserve to feel some relief now.