Mar. 9th, 2017

flexagon: (racing-turtle)
Really interesting lunch conversation today with a Zillianaire who's been there for a few years. I knew (though it's not widely known) that he actually came out of an early retirement to take this job, and for weeks we'd been planning to have lunch so that he could talk to me about early retirement and the pitfalls he encountered there. In the kitchen earlier this week I couldn't help noticing out loud that now he's got a hard-driving job and an infant -- he is, I said undiplomatically, like the kid who beat Super Mario Bros and is now playing through it again, starting over on the way harder mode where all the easily stompable Goombas have turned into fast-moving metal-coated beetles.

So we had lunch. Apparently he retired even earlier than I'd realized: in his "mid or early thirties". After this he drifted for a few years. He learned to make jewelry, which was super cool (and oh, I just realized this is why he has an awesome wedding ring. He probably made that). He got a masters degree in CS for fun. He took writing classes, but learned he wasn't a writer. He traveled around seeing friends, hoping to hang out with them as he'd done in college, but found out that the friends had jobs and kids and it wasn't the same.

He also got depressed. And when he did try to get back into the workforce, he found that most companies didn't want to hire him because of the gap on his resume. (Zillian didn't care: he spent four weeks practicing coding questions and then he interviewed well, and that's all we wanted to see.) Which turned into kind of a silly mistake on his part, since he'd intended initially to get a lower-stress job than this one, but so it goes.

He lost a lot of his social life -- even more the loose connections that a person says hi to, then any especially close work friends.

He lost something good to say when people said "so what do you do?" Our culture revolves strongly around work, and he never identified enough with his hobbies to feel comfortable answering like that.

He felt disconnected from the culture he'd been part of. It's more fun to be in it than be observing it, he said.

He got bored. A feeling I can only vaguely remember.

And he felt useless and not needed, with no particular reason to persist at anything that got annoying.

Any early retirement of mine would be almost 15 years later than his, it sounds like -- so I'll be that much older and tireder -- and maybe my heavy involvement in acrobatics and fitness would give me an obvious non-work place to keep belonging and keep trying to achieve things. Maybe. That bit about having trouble getting back into the workforce after time off, though, would probably be much worse for an older woman than for the man he was at the time. So it's definitely worth thinking through the psychology of the whole thing, before pulling any triggers; it's likely to be a one-way trip.


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