Who Am I? Pat Doyle Asks and Answers
Bob at Satisfying Retirement had a post about knowing yourself in your retirement transition and answering the big question, “Who am I?” Then, my New Moon Ritual in May asked me to identify my public persona and decide if I am satisfied with it. And finally Karen, here at Profound Journey, published lists of not-too-scary, slightly scary and totally terrifying questions to get to know someone better. Many were hard to answer but I tackled some of them – in italics below.
For sure, with these three occurrences, the Universe is asking me…Do I know myself? Who am I?
What is your favourite quote?
These two words from Socrates don’t qualify as my favourite quote, but they’re good ones!
Self-reflection is a big part of my retirement transition. To be true to myself, I need to really understand who I am (and who I am not) and what I am passionate about or interested in (or not). The self-discovery will continue as life experiences help me refine my answers to the questions – Who am I? Who is the authentic Pat?
It has been said that knowing yourself is a lifelong process as you continue to grow. And so, it will be one aspect of my lifelong journey.
What Fits and What Doesn’t
In retirement transition, I quickly discovered that I am not my job. The fact that I could not clearly define my job, after doing it for 20+ years, should have given me this insight much sooner!
The closest term for my work is Consumer Product Designer. My skill set from this is consumer, business, and technology integration. The pattern-finding, synthesis, and story telling is something I have always loved.
While the full-time work is over, I’ve been doing some part-time consulting for the past three years. I’m not sure I want to continue, but if the right project comes along, I probably will. I really do enjoy the learning and synthesis, the finding structure or framework, and creating the story. So to answer the question, What does being creative mean to you?, my creativity comes from synthesis and finding structure.
Some Things I Value
As part of my retirement transition process, I thought about different stages of my life and what I enjoyed and wished I could do more of. For example, where did I have the most fun (question – When do you feel amazing?) I thought about my bucket lists (foods to eat, places to visit, things to do) and created a Possibilities List of over 150 items!
I answered simple questions like indoors or out? Alone or with people? My answers:
- Outside. Surprisingly, my best ever vacations were all predominantly outside in nature. I love the challenge of climbing a well-trailed mountain, and the thrill of spotting wildlife. My favourite days are usually ones that include time spent outdoors.
- With people. While an introvert, I like small gatherings. My favourite evening is one spent having good conversation over good food, and perhaps a glass of wine. (question – When are you most yourself?) Or a walk and talk with a gal-pal. Or time spent with my hubby, doing pretty much anything.
- When taking the quiz at Five Love Languages, my top scores are in Time Spent, Words, and Touch. I’ve learned that some close friends and family (and hubby) are different, and I value when they give gifts or do things for me as an expression of their love and affection (hubby). (question – What roles do love and affection play in your life?)
Thinking about Purpose and Passion
So much of the retirement transition material talks about finding your life purpose, living your passion, and giving back. (question – What do you consider the most overrated virtue?) This has been a challenge for me.
Many people in retirement find passion in the creative arts. I’ve dabbled in various creative arts, but none have caught my passion. I’m also not a big fan of music, preferring to listen to the breeze and bird song through the open windows. I enjoy live theater but I have no desire to participate.
Many retirees find satisfaction in volunteering and more than one has talked to me about doing this. I joined two philanthropic groups this year, but am finding that helping others doesn’t seem to be fulfilling me.
A few retired friends have taken up photography, but that’s not of deep interest to me – although I appreciate their great photos on Facebook.
I enjoy time spent working in the garden, but have no desire to become a master gardener like two other retirees I know.
I enjoy breaking a sweat on a walk/hike, but have no desire to run a race or even take up a competitive sport. When I married a runner (his body no longer allows that activity), I jokingly said that my pre-nuptial states that I will not run. Walk, hike, stand up paddleboard, even Zumba…but not run.
Exploring New Possibilities
What are you curious about?
During retirement transition, I’ve learned about mindfulness and healthy aging and have put many new practices into effect.
I’ve enjoyed learning more about psychology and spirituality. I’ve explored cognitive behaviour, adult development, archetypes, and thinking patterns, but have not figured out what to do with all of that.
It Comes Down To…
Who am I? Here’s what I know for sure.
- I am a planner and a thinker. I have checklists of checklists.
- Finding the framework in complexity is one of my favourite things to do.
- I like the mental more than the physical.
- I can lose myself in writing – my book or my blog.
So what on my possibility list is most intriguing right now?
- Publishing my book of retirement transition how-to. (question – If you were writing a book, what would it be about?)
- Exploring birding, planning a cross-country RV trip, and having mini-adventures like stand up paddleboard, Mammoth Cave, and the Ohio State Fair. (question – Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time?)
Yet I am finding it a challenge to activate any of those items.
I Am Keeping
There are many things I’ve added to my life since retirement that I definitely want to keep. My list includes:
- foodie friends club
- walks and talks
- theater date nights
- eating healthier
- craft shows
- farmers markets
And I Am Grateful
I am grateful for my husband of 26 years who supports me in my quest to answer the question, “Who am I?” He allows me my quirks without complaint.
My mom, my second best friend and the woman who has always provided unconditional love, is still in this world. I’m grateful for that.
I am grateful for our solid financial security, gained through a lot of delayed gratification and hard work. Also some good life choices and luck.
Never having felt that I was a good friend to others, I am grateful for my solid contingent of friends.
I am grateful for reasonably good health, a strong medical community, and solid health care support from my company, which has allowed me to face cancer with optimism, resilience and success.
And I am grateful for this time of life where I can figure out who I really am, away from societal expectations and the need to compare and compete.
Who Am I?
What is my public persona? I am:
- a recovering workaholic who adores finding the framework (the structure) and learning how to live life, not work.
- an active person, leading a healthy lifestyle, experiencing things, enjoying daily life, and savoring the moments.
- learning to live my word of the year every single day. My word is SOAR – Savoring, Optimism, Activating, Resilient.
And I sincerely hope that I can be an inspiration to others by living this way.
And My Favourite Quote?
It’s a tie:
“Two roads diverged in a wood and I —
I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw
I wrote a post a while ago asking the question, “Can someone you’ve never met really be your friend?” If I’d thought about Pat, I wouldn’t have needed to write the post. Pat is not only an online friend, but I often teasingly refer to her as my twin. In archetype language she is a sage and also a seeker – two irresistible qualities that show up in her comments and in the posts on her site Retirement Transition. If you haven’t checked it out, please do. But before you go, please let us know in the comments below – Are you engaged in the quest of answering the question, “Who am I?” What has Pat said that has resonated for you?