I’ve found one of the real benefits of retirement is being able to be 100% me, all the time.
I remember my surprise 30th birthday party like it was yesterday. Partially because it was so damn stressful.
In the same house (ours that thankfully my Mom had cleaned) were my work friends who knew Liz version 1.0, my college friend who had become very religious who knew Liz version 2.0, my party at the lake friends who knew Liz version 3.0, my family who knew Liz version 4.0 and Mr. Ms. Liz who knew them all.
I felt a bit like Sybil (now I’m really dating myself) with all of her personalities in the same room. Though each personality wasn’t completely different from the others, they were different sides of me.
As I got older, my non-working personalities merged and I landed in a job and in a company that allowed me to be, well more me. But there were still a few work personalities. The Liz that my boss knew was a bit different from the Liz that my staff knew and both were quite different from the Liz that my Boards of Directors knew.
At times, these versions of me didn’t feel authentic. Because you can’t tell a staff member to shut up and get to work and you can’t tell a Board Member he’s a psychotic self serving ass. Well, you can’t say those things and keep your job anyway. So there was still a bit of tongue biting going on.
One of the many benefits of retirement has been dropping those less authentic personas and just being me. With all of my quirks and imperfections. And sure, some people bring out my best and others may not but it has been easier to be authentic as retired Liz.
But then, enter Ms. Liz. Some people in my real life know about Ms. Liz and others do not. I’m not one of those bloggers who list their net worth, their income (except when it’s $0) or the location of each of their accounts. But I’ve been pretty open about my financial status. I have enough and I may have more than enough.
And I talk a lot on this blog about how amazing financial independence and early retirement is. Because I’m trying to encourage you to reach for your own financial goals. But if I spoke similarly in real life, it could come off as a brag. And that is not my intention. Because getting here took real work; it took sacrifices many around us were unwilling or unable to make.
I’ve feared some people in my real life would be uncomfortable to read my stories and to know about my finances. So I’ve been fearful to share. Would people expect us to help them–i.e. fund their bad decisions with our good ones? Would they be resentful–“oh sure, they can retire early because of this good fortune or that”. Or would they compare their choices to ours only to feel bad? These outcomes do not help me achieve my goal of leading folks to their fantastic futures.
So I haven’t linked any of my personal social media accounts to Ms. Liz’s. Most of my family didn’t know about Ms. Liz until my Dad included it in his holiday letter (oops!). Mr. Ms. Liz’s family knows nothing. You get the picture.
So last Tuesday, I awoke at 5:30 (for no good reason!), made my coffee and sat down at my computer as I do most mornings. In my inbox was an email that said “You’re Famous Today!”. I still get chills as I type that!
My article about $10 a day being life changing had been selected by J-Money of BudgetsAreSexy fame and Cait Flanders of BlondeOnABudget (now Cait Flanders) fame as one of their 3 favorite articles that day. They linked to it from their very influential website RockstarFinance.com, and they tweeted it.
My little blog that typically has about 100 people a week looking at it had 1,900 people looking at it in that one day. And traffic the following days was still strong. I had positive comments from strangers all over the world.
My world had been rocked in a good way. At 5:30 in the morning. And who could I tell? No one.
Mr. Ms. Liz was asleep, and would not have taken kindly to being wakened, even with this news.
Few people in my real life know about Ms. Liz, and no one who does know would really understand how freaking amazing this was. Actually, one former colleague is a fan of RockstarFinance so she got it–and I couldn’t wait to hear from her!
So thank goodness for Twitter:
My friends in the blogging world–they get it. They get Ms. Liz.
So maybe it is enough that my blogging friends get Ms. Liz and my friends in real life get the real, authentic, warts and all Liz. And over time, I may feel more comfortable merging the two personas into one–we’ll see.
And I’ll add one more benefit of early retirement to my list–the ability to be authentically, completely you.
Photo credit-Mr. Ms. Liz at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona. If you haven’t been, put this one on your list!