TESTIMONY. I’m retired and bored to death!

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Some expect it, others dread it. Retirement marks the end of your professional life and the beginning of a new adventure, without the stress, demands and fatigue of work. For many, it’s time to finally take time for yourself, reconnect with old activities or try new ones. Going on a trip, going to the cinema, doing a sports activity, joining an association… In the collective imagination, retirement sounds like a full-time vacation, where you have the luxury of time. In reality, going from an intense rhythm to the most total idleness can be a brutal shock and lead to boredom.

Véronique* [the first name has been changed, Editor’s note], 67, has been retired for a year and still regrets her active life. A college teacher for 45 years, she stopped just a year before the age limit, tired by the health crisis linked to Covid-19, but the desire was still very present. She remembers very well “this feeling of emptiness when she stopped working”, a “feeling of social breakdown”, which was difficult to live with. After having exercised a profession turned towards others, Véronique had the feeling, when stopping, of “no longer being useful”: “When you are a teacher, you try to bring things to a certain number of students. and I loved it. I missed it very much”.

A year after the start of her retirement in September 2021, she misses working less, “but still a little”, she confides to Planet, adding: “My heart is a little tight at the start of the school year, still this year. It was less violent than last year, but I still thought about it a lot. I thought about my former colleagues, about the pleasure of meeting up after the holidays, about discovering new students…” . Well surrounded, Véronique sees her daughter and her grandson every week, goes out regularly with friends or spends long hours on the phone with them, but there is always something missing. “I read books, I watch series, I see people…”, she specifies, adding: “I do not suffer from being alone, but I suffer from a lack of contact and social life”. His observation is now clear: he misses his work.

Véronique knows that her words will make more than one jump but she assumes: “Me, I miss my work, I miss teaching, I miss the students. When we invest a lot in our work, a good part of our life revolves around him, when it stops suddenly it’s brutal”. Caught up in everyday life, she did not have time to prepare for her departure, which she now bitterly regrets: “You really have to prepare for your retirement in advance, I was told that but I don’t I didn’t do it and I regret it”. The sixty-year-old knew that the beginnings would be difficult, “but probably not to this point”.

Very quickly, by talking about it around her, Véronique understood that she was not the only one to experience a complicated start to retirement, even if the subject seems to be taboo…

Regret being retired? You do not belive it. Depressed for the first few months, Véronique shared her impressions with friends who are also retired: “What consoles me is that there are people with whom I discussed it and for whom it was the same, like a friend’s husband. He was also a teacher and he had a hard time getting used to the idea, while his wife stopped a few months after him. One of my best friends too, even if the job doesn’t she doesn’t miss her, she’s a little bored”.

If the retiree had trouble adapting to this new life, it was because she always needed “the speed of emergency”: “When I retire, I no longer have any deadlines, I I have no schedules or constraints. So why do today what we could do tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, in a week? What Véronique lacks is above all “the desire to do something, at least to pursue a project. At the moment I say to myself ‘Hey, that would be not bad’, but I don’t do it right away and I forget, or else I don’t want to do all the steps”.

For this second year in retirement, the sexagenarian is thinking about new projects, such as becoming a foster family for cats awaiting adoption. She plans to go down to her second home more often and perhaps take up university classes again, as part of a specific program dedicated to retirees. Activities that will not remove the lack of active life, but which will perhaps alleviate it a little.