Public & Private Selves and Retirement

I have an interesting theory.  People in general have two selves they show to the world: your public self and your private self.  Your public self is how you act in public like at work or in a situation with new people.  It’s still you, just your limiting yourself to what you say or do to avoid pissing off people by accident.

Your private self is just you.  Every little thought, rude comment or bizarre jump in logic that makes you unique.  Often your private self is only shown completely to a handful of people.  Yet at the same time I wonder what role retirement plays in your two selves.

Does your public self become a little less useful when you don’t really need to impress people for a potential job in the future?  Obviously you are still going to use some basic manners in public, but once you don’t depend on your interactions with others to eat and have a place to live does your public face fall away?  In retirement, do we just become more ourselves and hence use mostly our private self in all our interactions?

So is retirement really about not having a job or perhaps it more about being yourself regardless of the public view of it?  Is that a key to happiness in retirement?  If so, perhaps we should be more ourselves now and enjoy some happiness now.

Would it really hurt us to be just a little bit more ourselves during the work day?  Like all good questions, I think the answer is it depends.  Some comments or thoughts are better left unsaid in a typically workplace, but there are exceptions.  All in all I think everyone should be a little bit more themselves and enjoy life as it really is rather than though our limiting public self.

So what do you think?  Is retirement really about just becoming more of ourselves or did I eat too much turkey and wine this last weekend?

PS: Reminder to Canadian readers.  Go vote today!

3 thoughts on “Public & Private Selves and Retirement”

  1. Yep. I’ve been having the same thoughts lately. A lot of people at work wear a mask of social acceptability. This doesnt wash with me and I can see it a mile off. I have zero tolerance for this. But then I am in a somewhat different situation to most of the worker drones. BTW I also consider myself a worker drone since at present I still need a job of some description – but I dont need a career, there is definately a difference and with that difference comes a different state of mind. So I certainly think that in some respects retirement is a state of mind.


  2. What you’re really talking about, I suspect, is the divergence between the perceived and the actual self. Many great career books have been written about finding the true self or passion and then aligning it with market realities.

    There seems to be a common thread that runs through several of your excellent posts and that is, “I want to do what I have to do for as only as long as I have to do it, I have an escape plan, THEN, I can do/be/become what I want because then I will have achieved financial independence”

    I think the real goal might not be a fixed dollar amount, or a tipping point of financial independence, because although they are worthy goals, they are simply byproducts of a life well lived. Visualize if I reached out to you today and gave you the dollar amount you feel you need to be “comfortable”, or independent – now what are the feelings associated with achieving that? Reaching the “feeling” should be the goal, not the dollar figure itself.

    Crappy, boring, drone job? Quit it. Now. Be the person you were meant to be. Take a small leap of faith, believe in yourself – even a mustard seed sized belief, and step outside the box. Money will come and go, as is evidenced by the current market, but there will only EVER be one you.

    You want independence, be your own boss, you want freedom, sell everything and take your kids on a boat around the world, you want certainties, security, guarantees in life? There are absolutely NONE. That my friend is the illusion of self.

    Live while you’re alive.

    My two cents.

  3. Arm Chair,

    Excellent comment. I agree there really isn’t much for security in life other than what you make of it.

    I like the idea of the feeling. It’s likely more accurate that a pile of simulations anyway!


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