I know I’ve written a number of times about the importance of having a sense of your identity when you retire. You stop working and many of us lose the identity we had, the one that often gave us our sense of self-worth or self-esteem. We either feel we lack any kind of identity or the one we do develop, often through default, is a negative one – I’m not doing anything with my life, I’m worthless etc. etc. You know the way it goes or, if you don’t, then good luck to you. I read this article in one of our weekend papers recently and it’s a good, if extreme, version of what I’m talking about. I think in lots of ways it’s more difficult for a sportsperson to retire and for a number of reasons – they retire younger with much more of their lives ‘left’ to decide what they should do, their identity has been more tied (more all-enveloping) to their profession and often with higher levels of success in that profession than many of us have had.
So the story of footballer, Clarke Carlisle is not totally untypical but, as I say it’s extreme. When he retired, he tried to kill himself by stepping in front of a lorry travelling at 60 mph on the A64. Unfortunate, to say the least, that he didn’t consider the effect on the poor sod of a lorry driver who hit him. Clarke’s depression, which had plagued him throughout his career, came to a head when, after retiring, he had ‘a profound lack of identity and belonging’. As he said, ‘the job title defines you and when you leave that you get a loss of identity and belonging. Dealing with that and deconstructing it; managing to direct yourself down another path in life where you have satisfaction is one of the hardest things to do.’ Amen to that Clarke.
My strategy for coping with the state of being retired was to think carefully about what I wanted my new identity (and tried to be excited / motivated by the possibilities) to be and again, as I’ve written before, I decided I would start to describe myself as a writer. I reasoned that if I said it often enough it might come true. I’d struggled for a long time to become a writer, as I defined that activity. I could always write and get published non-fiction books related to my profession but, as soon as I stepped outside of my profession, my crime fiction, sitcoms, plays, ghost stories etc. all failed to find a home and, as a consequence my ambitions for a new identity at this point in my life fell on stony ground. My one effort to find a publisher for my retirement blogs similarly ended in tears. I contacted a publisher who simply did not bother to respond. That’s at least how it felt. Just like the bad, old days.
Imagine my intrigue then when last week I received the email below. Of course the likelihood is that it is spam of some kind. You know – first, pay us £200 and we will put you in touch with all these outlets. The irony is that in my past life I would have given my high teeth (strange expression) for such an opportunity – stay at home and write and be paid for it. Too good to be true? Probably, has anybody out there any experience of this type of offer? I would love to hear from you. Of course the other problem, apart from the authenticity of the email, is whether this is what I want to do now and probably more to the point could I possibly fit in another activity into my already overcrowded retirement life? Anyway here is the email I received
From: Val Rupe <Gislason@gmail.com>Subject: Would you like to get real writing job Message Body: Hi, We are looking for some people that are interested in working from their home on a part or full-time basis. If you want to earn $100, $200 or even up to $500 a day, and you don’t mind writing some short opinions up, this is the perfect opportunity for you! We work with hundreds of companies such as 20th Century Fox, Paramount Entertainment, Ford Motor Company, Google and more! We recruit people to fill 1000s of jobs for companies like this every year. Many of these jobs are simple online writing tasks, such as blogging about a movie that you recently saw, commenting on what your opinion is of a certain kind of car, proof reading simple documents and more! http://bit.ly/writingjobsop These companies are fighting for exposure on the internet and know the more people blogging about them, means the more exposure they are going to get, and ultimately the more money they are going to make. There has been an explosion in the need for online writers, regardless of skill. These companies are more interested in your honest genuine opinions when you’re writing blog entries about their company… not if you are a very talented writer. If you’re looking for work, or just want to make some part time money on the side, please come check out the jobs we have available. We are currently accepting new members. Sign Up Below. http://bit.ly/writingjobsop Sincerely, Lisa Roberts Director of HR — This e-mail was sent from a contact form on The Summer House Years (http://thesummerhouseyears.com)
Well there it is, I haven’t opened the link as yet and maybe never will. As long as I don’t I can kid myself that I am genuinely turning down an opportunity to become, at long last, a proper writer, i.e. a writer that gets paid. So retirement, once again I find myself exploring the wide world of possibilities that this part of my life has to offer. I know you’re probably thinking, for God’s sake grow up or get a life or any of a number of admonitions that might apply. And I agree, believing that the above email genuinely offers access to the missing link I’ve written about is plain foolish but, that said, what do you think, any good?