Author Topic: Identity struggle post-FIRE  (Read 2223 times)

verntc

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Identity struggle post-FIRE
« on: September 10, 2020, 05:11:00 PM »
New to the forum and glad I found it!

My story: Through my life I have more followed opportunities as they presented themselves rather than setting up a bunch of concrete goals. I have an MS and PhD in Ecology and have managed to land at a lot of great institutions and positions along the way. I always had a lot of fun at my jobs and treated each one like a new adventure. I am a natural toiler and pride myself on being hyper-organized and a great multi-tasker, just by sheer determination. I always pictured myself working until a ripe old age. FIREing was never even a blip of an idea for me.

Fast-forward to Oct 2019 when I found myself FIREing from my biotech job, along with my husband. Husband has been mentally ready to retire since college, worked almost 2 decades in biotech, saved, lived like a cardboard-box bachelor, amassed some rental properties. He is a natural at relaxing unlike me 😊. About 8 years ago I started at the same company. He has been working on me ever since to convince me to FIRE. I never thought I would do it. I loved my job and had been in school for so long to get to where I was. But saving sounded like a good idea so I humored him. And thanks to his relentless encouragement I paid off all my debts and started saving more than I ever thought possible. We got married a few years ago and had a child. Right before we found out I was pregnant, I was promoted to the position I had been aiming for. Things started getting much more intense/political at work and we were both getting tired of it. Plus, having a young child AND balancing a stressful, politically charged job just got to be way too hard. The blessing of being an older mom (mid-40s), I have found, is that you really want to savor it and make the most of it. I saw my tolerance level at work plummet and started coming around to my husband’s FIRE plea. One weekend we had a spreadsheet date where we went over all the numbers and it (along with many other conversations) convinced me we could actually free ourselves from our jobs and walk into an entirely new adventure. We waited a couple more months just to be sure and then both resigned.

The plan was to supplement our savings/investments by doing slow house flipping, basically moving to a new fixer upper every 2 years that we work on ourselves. If we liked it and were successful, we would use retirement funds to invest in faster flips that we would not inhabit and possibly hire out some of the work…but that was down the road. We are both handy so this was appealing/doable. Plus we could qualify for Medicaid after FIRE which is great coverage here in AZ so I felt better about cutting the company policy ties with a young child.

Ok so that was the exciting part, taking the leap. Now almost a year post-FIRE I am struggling with some aspects of it. I love the freedom from bosses and work-related stress and it is amazing to be co-parenting in this super present way and not worried about getting the laundry done etc. that I used to have to cram into the weekends along with family QT. Now that I have felt this freedom, the thought of working at a company again is not desirable. But one aspect I struggle with is not having the instant identity and clout that a company title brings you, esp. when you have worked so hard to get there. I struggle to find the right words to describe what I do now when I meet people, esp. people who are not FIREd. And no matter what I say they usually assume I left to be a stay at home mom (no offense to those who choose this!) even though my husband left with me and our son is in day care most of the week. I find myself wondering what my value is and where this path will lead me years down the road. I have always been ‘the scientist” but I can’t rely on that pat-on-the-back anymore. More than anything this experience has shown me just how much I have relied on how I look to others. My story was so easy to share before FIRE. It is a shocking contrast. I know that sounds petty but I think it is probably a common reality.

Trying to balance these fears with the enjoyment of the freedom.

Anyone else have this struggle? Long-winded way to get there but wanted to share my story in hopes of connecting.

reeshau

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2020, 06:29:00 PM »
Do you for some reason not want to say "retired scientist?"  That would seem to both connect to your previous working life and telegraph that you aren't working again.  That will, of course, still weird people out.  I am 9 months into the adventure myself.  Honestly, most of our neighbors take it in just fine--most of those who are around during the day on weekdays are retired, too--although at more traditional ages.  They don't even blink.  For the professionals who are either working from home or that I see on the weekend, they seem to take it in stride--But perhaps they have questions about it they haven't brought up.  Any conversation about it is on them to show interest.

Some in my family had the hardest time accepting it.  Of course, they were the first I told, even a few months before doing it.  So, maybe I wasn't so smooth communicating it.

For the rest--I don't really care what they think.  I thought I might be amused by being able to shock some people, or catching someone nonplussed about the situation.  But really--meh.  I have no interest, so couldn't tell you if it happened or not.  I have far too many things going on that are more interesting that rehashing that story.  Now, if someone showed interest in it, and we had a conversation about it, that would be great.  It has not happened yet.  Of course, we also haven't been going out with a bunch of strangers for long periods of time, either.

I have no idea how much of this experience is about my personality vs. about going through the experience and learning.  I was definitely worried about losing my work identity, and having come from IT, was worried about  my "skills growing stale."  But the more this side of the experience is normal, and that prior life is different from now, the less important that is.

The only advice I can give is to keep some touchstone to your identity as a scientist: teach or assist teaching STEM topics--the country needs it!  Or volunteer for a wildlife count, or something else that gets you in the field.  Write about it.
 It could be a single, annual event or a second career.  (I have a very good family friend in HR.  She was a long-time Marshall for the local PGA tour event.  She continued this into her retirement, and found that she got enough hobnobbing with the bigwigs there to feel "in the know" for as long as she cared)

verntc

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2020, 07:03:25 PM »
Thanks for sharing reeshau! I totally understand your sentiment about skills going stale. True that they won't be needed in my foreseeable future, except of course teaching my son about bugs in the yard :). And good advice on looking into other outlets to use the science. I like the idea of volunteering for a wildlife effort, even if it is a bit hard to swallow that I will never be at the same level I was...but it is a fair trade for the freedom. And you have a good attitude about not caring what those outside your circle think. I am still working on that. My family was definitely excited for me as they knew how stressed we were but as time passes it is clear they are confused. I think they assume we are made of money now and able to pay out whatever we want.  For example being a bit shocked we are not paying people to remodel our house.

Did you retire to a specific project/effort? IT seems like a pretty wide-applying skill that would come in handy.

Trudie

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2020, 07:18:09 PM »
These feelings you’re having will likely pass.  It takes time.  Think about the time you spent thinking about, training for, and in your career.  You don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re over it.  Maybe at the end your job was like a bad boyfriend (mine was)... still kind of sparkly on the outside and a thrill, but deep down was really crushing your soul.  You know you weren’t really meant for one another, or maybe it was bad timing... But still, you don’t just break up with the bad boyfriend without some wistfulness about what could have been, or how great things were at first, and you might occasionally wake up with bad dreams about your ex... until you don’t anymore.  Or you might miss the great... paycheck.

You might feel funny going out at first.  “What will people think about why we’re no longer together?”  But then people will notice that you look so well rested, happier, light of spirit...

What you’re feeling is natural and shifting gears takes time.  You’re letting go of old ideas about yourself and quite possibly shedding your inauthentic self.  That might sound new-agey, but it’s certainly been my lived experience.  I went through a rough patch at first, but then we settled into our new life and it’s been great.  It helped us tremendously to move to a new town after we FIREd.  People know us as we are now rather than as our old selves.  I engage in only things I want to do, and as time goes on I feel less pressure to give back.  I feel like I’m at my best when I’m happy doing what makes me happy.  Some days that may just mean that I’m canning tomatoes or reading a book or turning the compost pile.  That’s enough.




ysette9

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2020, 07:22:26 PM »
Your post resonates a lot with me. I FIREd earlier this year with a list of things I wanted to pursue and have been able to do almost nothing of it due to covid. I really cling to the identity of FIRE because I always knew I wouldn’t want to be a SAHP and wouldn’t be good at it.

And yet due to covid I am at home, taking care of little kids, and supervising “distance learning”, which is basically the crappier cousin of homeschooling. Everything I told myself I would never, ever do in life.

It is really hard at times and I’ll be honest, sometimes I hate it and feel trapped.
I try to prioritize exercise as that helps my mental health a lot. I am trying to remember to keep expectations for school low and make sure we are balanced and reasonably happy over getting every crappy little online assignment done.

I also try to channel a tiny bit of time into adult activities that I care about. In this case I am trying to do basic financial education to disadvantaged people. It is slow getting off the ground but even a little bit gives me more meaning in life than cleaning up the goddamn kitchen yet another $&?€% time.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2020, 07:57:09 PM »
It is normal to have an existential crisis in FIRE especially during the first 6 month decompression period.  I find that most people (americans at least), have no idea who they actually are without tying their identity to what they do for a living.  YOU ARE NOT YOUR CAREER. 

That said, I recommend doing a core values exercise.  Identify what it is that actually matters to you.  You can build activities, goals, leisure, reading, etc, then around what matters.  I like this one: https://www.cmu.edu/career/documents/my-career-path-activities/values-exercise.pdf

Note, you'll need to repeat this exercise every two to three  years.  The beauty of the human condition is we are not ONE THING.  We have the opportunity to change and even grow over time.  You are not the same person with the same concerns you had as a teen for example.  That seems obvious but what maybe is less obvious is you are no longer the same person you were when you had a job. 

Take charge by establishing what matters and quantifying who you ARE.  Adjust your schedule accordingly.

reeshau

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2020, 11:02:20 PM »
Did you retire to a specific project/effort? IT seems like a pretty wide-applying skill that would come in handy.

The specific project we retired to was relocating from Ireland to Houston.  That has kept us busy through the year, for sure.  We would like to explore our new city more, but have stuck to our immediate area to minimize exposure.

In the back of my mind, I have all sorts of ideas.  I would like to play with some blockchain concepts, I would like to do some game mods, I would like to do a bit of sci-fi writing. (I have a few short story outlines written up from working days, so that I wouldn't forget the ideas)  I have a kindergartener, so at some point I will teach him to code.  I am actually an electrical engineer by training, with an optics concentration, so having a laser lab in the house would be tons of fun.  I dabble with photography and have admired the maker movement from afar, so those would be fun to explore.

I am never short on ideas. :)  I get along with myself because I don't obsess over each one coming into realization:  they are all opportunities, and the time will come where I can dive into each.

cool7hand

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2020, 05:53:40 AM »
Check out the Tony Robbins TED talk on the six human needs. Forgive me if I've misunderstood, but it reads as though certainty/growth/significance/purpose all could be important needs for you, and you fulfilled one or more of them via your job. The thoughts about what others think in particular sound like significance. Perhaps you'll either need to find a way to reframe your existence or other activities to fulfill those needs or even to not care about what others think.

I hope this is of some help.

Loren Ver

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2020, 03:24:10 PM »
Hello fellow retired (FIREd!!) scientist that worked in biotech!

Wanted to drop in and say "hi" and give you a high give

*palm up*

One of my majors (undergrad) was ecology so, double score ;).

As for your actual post/question, after being one of the most experienced scientists in the room (they liked to lay off the other ones but I was a team player and workhorse), I do miss being the smartie in the room sometimes.  The go to person.  The one that know the why and the how.  The one that people will track down in the lab if they can't find me at my desk because they need to ask ME right now!  But I am so glad I traded in the politics and fires for FIRE. 

As others have said, you aren't your job/career, but you do have talents, find new ways to use them and feel free to show off that awesome person you are in ways that you value :).

Loren

CanaFI

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2020, 09:50:02 PM »
This post speaks to me so much.  I FIREd in 2018 and spent 1.5 years learning, reading, reflecting and feeling awkward around friends and family as no one in my circle was also retired.  I ended up deciding that i wanted to work again but would only take a role that was interesting and with a company that I believed in and I found both.  Even though I really enjoy the work, I wonder if I would have worked again if I had friends that were also in the same boat as me. 

ilsy

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2020, 01:30:03 AM »
This post speaks to me so much.  I FIREd in 2018 and spent 1.5 years learning, reading, reflecting and feeling awkward around friends and family as no one in my circle was also retired.  I ended up deciding that i wanted to work again but would only take a role that was interesting and with a company that I believed in and I found both.  Even though I really enjoy the work, I wonder if I would have worked again if I had friends that were also in the same boat as me.

I wonder the same thing. I only gave the FIREd life 5 months, but pretty happy at my new job, learned a lot of new skills and still learning. It's very different to work at a job that you don't really need to work at, but want to work at, and knowing that you could leave it at any time and be fine.

ilsy

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2020, 01:51:12 AM »
Trying to balance these fears with the enjoyment of the freedom.

Anyone else have this struggle? Long-winded way to get there but wanted to share my story in hopes of connecting.
Try telling your friends that you are an entrepreneur because that is true.

I don't have this struggle probably because my kids know who I was and to them I am a scientist too (one of my many past professions). For some reason they prefer to share this profession at school. My kids are 11 and 13 and come to me when they have a question in math or science, so I fulfill that role to not miss it at all. Plus, there are other roles that I'm more proud of than being a scientist, like having talented and hard working kids who can cook a meal for the family, volunteer and raise money (I'm totally taking credit for that).

CanaFI

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2020, 08:45:02 AM »

I wonder the same thing. I only gave the FIREd life 5 months, but pretty happy at my new job, learned a lot of new skills and still learning. It's very different to work at a job that you don't really need to work at, but want to work at, and knowing that you could leave it at any time and be fine.

I completely agree.  Sometimes I feel like maybe I didn't understand how to FIRE but when I took on this job it was a career change too.  It's so different working when you know you don't need to.  It's more freeing and in a lot of ways I can take more risks and challenging and stretching myself.  Deconstructing our identity to our career I think is an important part about the process which i'm still working on.  We are definitely more than our profession and job titles.

IslandFiGirl

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2020, 07:42:53 PM »
It is a weird place to be, isn't it?  Because most people will inevitably ask "what do you do?"  and the expected answer is what type of work you do.  It's weird to not have an answer to that, because when you have a job, people can IMMEDIATELY judge you based on your work...they can deduce how much you make, how much schooling you had to do to get there, how smart you are, etc.  When you say (like I do) oh...I'm taking a break from working for a while, so right now, I ride my bike a lot, go paddle boarding, go to the gym, take dance lessons...well, that forces them to try to decide if they like you more based on your personality than your job...it's different!  I haven't really found many people who give a crap one way or another, to be honest.  And after getting the freedom from a very stressful job, I don't really care that I can't say, oh I am a (fill in the blank) anymore.  It was before, and I was good at it and I loved it but it overtook my life and now I have that back, so...yay!  I do like knowing that if I wanted to, I could surely find a place in that world again, but it would be different because I wouldn't HAVE to work myself to the bone.  Choices...freedom, that's where it's at! 

Dicey

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2020, 02:27:09 AM »
DH and I have been married for almost 8 years. I have been RE for one month less than that. In that time, we have flipped two houses and BRRR'd two more. I have thoughts, but it's late and I need to sleep, so more later.

herbgeek

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2020, 06:28:24 AM »
Quote
I do miss being the smartie in the room sometimes.  The go to person.  The one that know the why and the how.  The one that people will track down in the lab if they can't find me at my desk because they need to ask ME right now!

This is ME!  I liked mastering the tools used in my job, and getting behind the scenes to understand their organization/capabilities in order to better use them.  And people came to me out of the blue because they heard I was THE person to ask on this tool. Although another group was actually responsible for support, I was a power user and data reporting nerd.

This is the part of working that I miss most, and the one where I'm still searching for a replacement for in retired life.

Life in Balance

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2020, 10:45:04 AM »
And after getting the freedom from a very stressful job, I don't really care that I can't say, oh I am a (fill in the blank) anymore.  It was before, and I was good at it and I loved it but it overtook my life and now I have that back, so...yay!  I do like knowing that if I wanted to, I could surely find a place in that world again, but it would be different because I wouldn't HAVE to work myself to the bone.  Choices...freedom, that's where it's at!

It's like you read my mind and put my thoughts into words.  Thank you!

soccerluvof4

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2020, 06:50:19 AM »
I was self employed managing usually on average around 50 people that also had multiple divisions so I can understand how you feel. It was the one thing I knew well and loved the income but it just wore me out and the last 16 years my DW worked there as well. I have been fired for 5 and a half years and the first year was the toughest and each year gets a little easier but I dont know if I will ever replace that feeling of leadership and others depending on me.

The difference for me was I wanted nothing to do with the business and promised I would never no matter the phone calls I got have any part in any aspect of the business that after 27 years plus was starting to slowly kill me. I think the key is finding either away to have in part to some aspect what you use to do in your life or to fill your mind and stay active with what free time you do have with something filling the void. Once you are able to do that and It might take some time, you will find that inter peace and care less what others as well might think. Wish you the best!

verntc

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2020, 07:05:32 AM »
Did you retire to a specific project/effort? IT seems like a pretty wide-applying skill that would come in handy.

The specific project we retired to was relocating from Ireland to Houston.  That has kept us busy through the year, for sure.  We would like to explore our new city more, but have stuck to our immediate area to minimize exposure.

In the back of my mind, I have all sorts of ideas.  I would like to play with some blockchain concepts, I would like to do some game mods, I would like to do a bit of sci-fi writing. (I have a few short story outlines written up from working days, so that I wouldn't forget the ideas)  I have a kindergartener, so at some point I will teach him to code.  I am actually an electrical engineer by training, with an optics concentration, so having a laser lab in the house would be tons of fun.  I dabble with photography and have admired the maker movement from afar, so those would be fun to explore.


@reeshau sounds awesome! Good luck with all of it! Inspiring to see so many ideas!

verntc

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2020, 08:23:56 AM »
@Trudie Ha! I like the bad boyfriend analogy. LOL! And very apt. I did truly love my job for many years but certainly as my priorities shifted around my family, it became a very bad fit. Relieved I do not have to go there anymore!

@ysette9 Thank you! I am glad to find someone who can relate. And yes, what a bummer this pandemic has become getting in the way of all future planning (of course among other tragic things). It has been so hard not knowing when things will get back to normal, esp. with hanging with our elderly parents. My dad has met my son only once! I do feel lucky that my son is too young yet for school and I am in awe of you parents keeping it together with the home schooling. I know many who struggle with it. And good on you for your efforts teaching financial skills to others. That is admirable! And totally get it with this groundhog's day endless cycle of chores at home.

@Financial.Velociraptor Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I will look into those! I totally agree, the American culture is so wrapped around what we do as our careers, ingrained into most of us and hard to escape. FIREing is a good way to challenge that and get to know the new you. I am sure once I grapple with the loss I will discover a whole new round of possibilities.

@cool7hand Yes, I think those are definitely important to me. will check it out, thanks!

@Loren Ver Thanks so much for sharing that...and the science palm up! Yes, yes, yes! So hard to lose that clout/respect. Such a catch22 to drop off the face of the science world (like I said, most of my ex colleagues assume I left to be a SAHM and gave up on science). But of course I am relieved too. It was not sustainable, the particular path I was on once I left academia. And you are right, I need to apply my skills elsewhere. I have been spending my days doing home reno and have found it VERY satisfying to make something old and grungy, look fabulous! I am able to channel many of my organizational and trouble shooting skills into those aspects. But I suspect as I do more of it I will need to expand into other areas. Thanks for the encouragement!






verntc

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2020, 08:33:30 AM »

I completely agree.  Sometimes I feel like maybe I didn't understand how to FIRE but when I took on this job it was a career change too.  It's so different working when you know you don't need to.  It's more freeing and in a lot of ways I can take more risks and challenging and stretching myself.  Deconstructing our identity to our career I think is an important part about the process which i'm still working on.  We are definitely more than our profession and job titles.

@CanaFI Yes, totally agree and quite an important challenge to learn to disentangle yourself from a career. And to @ilsy 's point, what a gift to try to model for your kids how to do that too! We become so one dimensional and ego driven around our careers...I know I certainly was! And know that this will be such a nice way to teach our kids to smell the flowers and chill out a bit.

verntc

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2020, 08:36:49 AM »
It is a weird place to be, isn't it?  Because most people will inevitably ask "what do you do?"  and the expected answer is what type of work you do.  It's weird to not have an answer to that, because when you have a job, people can IMMEDIATELY judge you based on your work...they can deduce how much you make, how much schooling you had to do to get there, how smart you are, etc.  When you say (like I do) oh...I'm taking a break from working for a while, so right now, I ride my bike a lot, go paddle boarding, go to the gym, take dance lessons...well, that forces them to try to decide if they like you more based on your personality than your job...it's different!

@IslandGirl TOTALLY, very well put.

verntc

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2020, 08:41:12 AM »
I was self employed managing usually on average around 50 people that also had multiple divisions so I can understand how you feel. It was the one thing I knew well and loved the income but it just wore me out and the last 16 years my DW worked there as well. I have been fired for 5 and a half years and the first year was the toughest and each year gets a little easier but I dont know if I will ever replace that feeling of leadership and others depending on me.

The difference for me was I wanted nothing to do with the business and promised I would never no matter the phone calls I got have any part in any aspect of the business that after 27 years plus was starting to slowly kill me. I think the key is finding either away to have in part to some aspect what you use to do in your life or to fill your mind and stay active with what free time you do have with something filling the void. Once you are able to do that and It might take some time, you will find that inter peace and care less what others as well might think. Wish you the best!

Thanks @soccerluvof4 much appreciated! I think you are correct that it will be hard to replace that feeling. And that is probably the point of FIRE, not to rely on that feeling. But it is so had to let that go, esp. in this society. Glad it gets easier and easier though!

smoghat

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2020, 09:02:08 PM »
It’s been pretty hard for me, in part because I wanted to move from teaching into art. I’d already had my art exhibited in a number of museums, but apparently now that I am not associated with a top school, I’m not anywhere near in demand. Frustrating! It’s been 5 years now and while I’d never go back to teaching, I’m struggling to find a place outside it. I had a bunch of residencies lined up this year and then COVID hit. Arrghhh....

blue_green_sparks

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2020, 05:22:46 AM »
I remember when I would leave mid-afternoon on a workday for a dentist appointment. Their office was across the street from the beach. I would see all sorts of people riding bikes, carrying surfboards/fishing gear and skateboarding. I was thinking "doesn't anyone work around here?".

Despite that, I'll admit I had a bit of an identity crisis an an unemployed engineer during the first year. If someone asks "what do you do?" now; "I'm a fitness/leisure/investment/home garden/music/sculpture professional."

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Re: Identity struggle post-FIRE
« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2020, 12:06:41 PM »
New to the forum and glad I found it!

My story: Through my life I have more followed opportunities as they presented themselves rather than setting up a bunch of concrete goals. I have an MS and PhD in Ecology and have managed to land at a lot of great institutions and positions along the way. I always had a lot of fun at my jobs and treated each one like a new adventure. I am a natural toiler and pride myself on being hyper-organized and a great multi-tasker, just by sheer determination. I always pictured myself working until a ripe old age. FIREing was never even a blip of an idea for me.

Fast-forward to Oct 2019 when I found myself FIREing from my biotech job, along with my husband. Husband has been mentally ready to retire since college, worked almost 2 decades in biotech, saved, lived like a cardboard-box bachelor, amassed some rental properties. He is a natural at relaxing unlike me 😊. About 8 years ago I started at the same company. He has been working on me ever since to convince me to FIRE. I never thought I would do it. I loved my job and had been in school for so long to get to where I was. But saving sounded like a good idea so I humored him. And thanks to his relentless encouragement I paid off all my debts and started saving more than I ever thought possible. We got married a few years ago and had a child. Right before we found out I was pregnant, I was promoted to the position I had been aiming for. Things started getting much more intense/political at work and we were both getting tired of it. Plus, having a young child AND balancing a stressful, politically charged job just got to be way too hard. The blessing of being an older mom (mid-40s), I have found, is that you really want to savor it and make the most of it. I saw my tolerance level at work plummet and started coming around to my husband’s FIRE plea. One weekend we had a spreadsheet date where we went over all the numbers and it (along with many other conversations) convinced me we could actually free ourselves from our jobs and walk into an entirely new adventure. We waited a couple more months just to be sure and then both resigned.

The plan was to supplement our savings/investments by doing slow house flipping, basically moving to a new fixer upper every 2 years that we work on ourselves. If we liked it and were successful, we would use retirement funds to invest in faster flips that we would not inhabit and possibly hire out some of the work…but that was down the road. We are both handy so this was appealing/doable. Plus we could qualify for Medicaid after FIRE which is great coverage here in AZ so I felt better about cutting the company policy ties with a young child.

Ok so that was the exciting part, taking the leap. Now almost a year post-FIRE I am struggling with some aspects of it. I love the freedom from bosses and work-related stress and it is amazing to be co-parenting in this super present way and not worried about getting the laundry done etc. that I used to have to cram into the weekends along with family QT. Now that I have felt this freedom, the thought of working at a company again is not desirable. But one aspect I struggle with is not having the instant identity and clout that a company title brings you, esp. when you have worked so hard to get there. I struggle to find the right words to describe what I do now when I meet people, esp. people who are not FIREd. And no matter what I say they usually assume I left to be a stay at home mom (no offense to those who choose this!) even though my husband left with me and our son is in day care most of the week. I find myself wondering what my value is and where this path will lead me years down the road. I have always been ‘the scientist” but I can’t rely on that pat-on-the-back anymore. More than anything this experience has shown me just how much I have relied on how I look to others. My story was so easy to share before FIRE. It is a shocking contrast. I know that sounds petty but I think it is probably a common reality.

Trying to balance these fears with the enjoyment of the freedom.

Anyone else have this struggle? Long-winded way to get there but wanted to share my story in hopes of connecting.

I have known individuals in a situation  similar to yours who struggled with  the paradox of escaping  from their freedom.

To fully enjoy your new freedom you must establish a connection with  the totality of your  mind which is your essence.

 Your essence  is not what you do  in general or in  particular such as a channeled application of your  mind  that placed you  on a specific career trajectory.

To unwind you must focus on the uniqueness of your essence

Your academic credentials evince  ample capability  of  apprehending its singularity.

« Last Edit: October 19, 2020, 12:09:21 PM by John Galt incarnate! »