By Tim Smith
I’ve always tried to be an upbeat, positive person, the Pollyanna in the crowd, trying to find the good in any situation. Throughout life, one of my mantras has been “It could be worse…”
Recently there’s been little joy in my life. Last month, I voluntarily left my post-retirement job as the editor of a weekly arts and entertainment publication. I still work for them from home as a freelancer and copy editor. The publisher turned out to be the worst boss I’ve ever worked under, a cross between Hitler and Atilla the Hun. I didn’t come out of retirement to be verbally abused every day, so I chose to leave. This came at the end of a summer that was so stressful, I couldn’t enjoy many of the things I typically do. We didn’t even get to celebrate the Fourth of July, because he refused to close the office that day.
At first, I was relaxed and content. Then I began to miss the daily interactions with my former co-workers, with whom I have remained friendly. We got along well and made a good team, working together against the common enemy. Then, my life partner’s work schedule changed, resulting in a lot of double shifts and overtime. I found myself spending a lot of time alone in a big empty house.
One thing people don’t consider about retirement is that many of your work friends are still employed, and have their own things going on. When you leave someplace after 25 years like I did last year, among the tearful goodbyes are the false promises “We’ll keep in touch” and “Let’s do lunch.” Funny how these folks are always too busy to get together.
I’ve never been one who likes attending events by myself or dining out alone. I have done the solo travel thing and for the most part, I didn’t care for it. Even the times when I went to the Florida Keys alone, the aura wore off after the first couple of days. Times like those are when I tend to get myself in trouble.
It occurred to me long ago that sometimes, you have to make your own joy, your own happiness. It’s important to do things that bring you pleasure, whether it’s writing, or watching a movie, or doing some project around your house, or just settling back with a good book. I had forgotten about these simple pleasures.
I finally decided to get out of my self-induced funk and rejoin the human race. I took stock of my situation and realized that I didn’t have it so bad, after all. Anything I perceived as being wrong could be fixed. I started keeping the same routine I had when I was working and forced myself to focus on writing. I reached out to a few friends and family members I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Social media, like Facebook groups, took on more importance and I reconnected with a few people from my past. A friend I used to work with included me in a group that plays trivia at a local sports bar every week. It turned out that those former co-workers actually had time for an occasional lunch or Happy Hour.
Sometimes, you have to be your own cheerleader.