For the last year, I have been working as a contact tracer. This is not my life’s passion, it was just a stop-gap job to transition from selling my business. I wanted a job and the pandemic was on in full force so it worked out. About ten months into contact tracing I felt totally burned out and knew that I needed to move on. Move on to what I wasn’t sure about, but I needed to get out of that job.
Yesterday I was in my dingy basement office finishing the last day of my job when my neighbor texted me asking me for an egg. Grateful for a break from the arduous last few hours, I happily agreed to run it over to her. My neighbor and I are both in our early fifties. She’s planning to leave her job in June and so we were talking about next steps.
“I want a job with meaning, but I don’t want a job with responsibility,” she said.
“Me too,” I agreed, “I want a job that is meaningful but I don’t want a job where I have to take care of anyone’s needs or wellbeing.”
“I don’t want a job that has any stress,” she added.
“Same,” I said, “I want to work on a team but I don’t want to supervise anyone.”
We laughed about how absurd our job requirements were. Do meaningful jobs with no responsibility and no stress even exist? As I latched my neighbor’s gate and walked towards my house, she yelled, “I wish I was 60!”
I sometimes wish I was sixty too. Being sixty is a milestone that, while not that far in my future, seems a million miles away. There is something about sixty that entitles you to finally relax. After forty years of striving, grinding, achieving, proving oneself, it seems like a legitimate move to chuck it all and put your feet up when you turn sixty.
I see my other neighbor who’s in her early sixties tending the garden at 11 am on a Tuesday and think nothing of it. She’s sixty, I think, she deserves to do whatever she wants.
Being in my fifties feels like a nebulous space between working hard and relaxing.