Reaching financial independence & retiring early (FIRE) leads to all kinds of interesting reactions from people I meet. Some want to learn how you did it, others are puzzled over how it could be done, but most are just happy for you. Yesterday someone said simply, “I want to live your life!”
Not all of the reactions people have are positive, though. I wrote a couple posts on people’s odd reactions in the past, but realized there is an infrequent, but curious reaction I had not mentioned: people who want to deny that you are actually retired. People who strangely think you are secretly living a life of full employment, or have planned out an elaborate Jimmy Buffett-like charade whereby you act like a beach bum, but are actually running a huge merchandising empire.
This is kind of an odd bunch, but I first noticed it a couple of summers ago when I was having lunch with an old colleague at a nearby restaurant. We were eating on the patio when a friend of his came up to say hi. My friend introduced me and told his friend I was “retired” – with his fingers making air quotes, like there was something dubious about my actual status. It was as if he wanted to cast doubt on my early retirement or that it was make-believe. It was confusing to both me and his friend.
Since then I’ve noticed it happens about once a month. When I might joke about not working, someone might say “yeah, right – we know you work”. Or, they’ll ask my wife “he’s not really retired is he?” I’ve been questioned by a lot of people who ask “It’s really only a partial retirement, isn’t it?”
The weirdest thing related to this was when someone told me a former colleague was telling people that I was fired from my MegaCorp job and merely ‘pretending’ to be retired. Since I stopped working back on April Fool’s Day in 2016, I’m not sure how he could have thought that it was plausible to pretend this long.
While it’s true that I serve on one paid corporate board and do an occasional consulting project for a friend or two, these activities take up very little time and are financially inconsequential for us. Whether they were paid or not, I would still enjoy doing them. As such, they are certainly not ‘work’ in any material sense of the word.
After almost three full years of being a goof-off, I would have expected these comments to have faded away, but just the other day I got a puzzling “Oh, we know your really still work a lot” comment from someone, to which I replied, “you clearly have me confused with someone else!”
I really wish these folks would simply look up this web site and see that we had planned for our FIRE lifestyle years before early retiring and steadily counted down the months until I left MegaCorp. Perhaps if they understood the work, savings, and decisions we made to enable this lifestyle, they would ‘get it’.
While I find this reaction odd, what other people think about what I do with my time is really of no consequence to me. I’m plenty happy with the lifestyle we’ve been able to create for ourselves and enjoy goofing off as my ‘job’.
As I often say, early retirement is the best job I never had!
Image Credit: Pixabay