An Ode to Wanting to Work After Retirement… But Also Win a Retirement Lottery

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels

I love work. I want to continue working even after retirement.

But I also want to win a lottery so I can retire.

Not making sense? Hear me out.

I love doing the kind of work I do but I am not exactly a fan of the corporate culture. If you read my ode to freelancing, you would understand why.

Let me add something extra to what I wrote previously. I want to win a retirement lottery.. so I can retire and do my kind of work till the end of time. I do not have to worry about bills or putting food on the plate. I can concentrate on what I like, even if it might mean making less money. Yes, what I like, might not necessarily make me rich. It’s the hard fact of life. Not every interest pays well.

There are times I have wished wealth was distributed equally with everyone. So that each and every person living on this planet can do what they like, and not just the wealthy. I do not mean going on expensive holidays or owning luxurious homes. Just the basic freedom to do what one likes. That in itself can make anyone happy. But, that’s not how the world works, and it might never work that way. The top 1% own 43% of the world’s wealth. Society thrives on income discrimination. The fact is no one is self-made. It takes many people to make one man’s business successful, but all the monetary benefits go only to a select few.

What would happen if I win a retirement lottery:

  • I would quit work.
  • I can finally avoid annual performance reviews. My last few didn’t go too well.
  • Start freelancing again.
  • Face less pressure.
  • Better mental health.
  • Choose the type of work I want to do.
  • Work from anywhere in the world. No location constrictions.

It is everyone’s secret dream. To win a lottery. It is the easiest way out to escape the rat race.

I haven’t bought a lottery ticket ever in my life. But the dream of winning one persists. 

An Ode to Leaving Work On Time

Worked Hard. No Friends, Money or Assets.
From Workchronicles on Instagram

I have always left work on time.

Or, I have tried my best to. When there’s a genuine emergency, there is no option but to stay back.

Even at my first job, when a senior demanded I stay overtime to complete *his* work, I refused. I knew if he actually sat down to do his work, he wouldn’t require any help. He kept complaining about his age (he was in his 40s) and how he could not take too much burden at work anymore. This unreasonable emotional blackmail did not work either. The 40s is the new 30s or 20s or whatever you choose it to be. It is all in the mind. If you feel you are ageing and you cannot do much, then damn right, you cannot.

The end story is that I got what I wanted – not to work overtime.

I have to say I was privileged when I first started working. I was not in dire need of money. I had a support system. If I were desperate, I would have compromised more and said yes to a lot of work I did not want to do. Work was not a priority in my 20s. I was preoccupied with living my life, having fun, getting my heart broken, and spending all my money without saving a bit.

Many people compromise at work because they do not have a support system at home to fall back on. Maybe they are the sole earning member; maybe they are in a lot of debt. When the responsibilities pile on, which they will as you age, so does the burden of compromising. You tend to become more afraid of losing your job, and you play it safer and become more diplomatic.

I see many employees working overtime mainly to please their bosses. They take that first step – to work overtime. Their bosses never asked for it. I realized that once you start working overtime, there’s no going back. Your coworkers (and boss) would keep expecting you to put in those extra hours. “You have done it before, so why not now?

Once you establish a boundary that you are available to work only during your scheduled hours, things become simpler. Everyone will stop nagging you to stay back. Your body will also nag you to leave work on time. Some stay back out of habit. They are used to working overtime, and it has become a part of their life now.

What makes us work harder than required might also be due to imposter syndrome. That feeling that you are not good enough and you need to try extra hard to safeguard your job. Some do this by working extra hours. But when the work you produce within your work hours is of good quality, working extra is really not required. Try to focus and give your work your full attention during work hours. This should be more than enough. 

You might have to deal with people asking, “Leaving already?” when you exit on time. Pay them no heed. It’s your work-life balance that is at stake. If you feel working after hours is the only way to live, by all means, work overtime. If you wish to have a life outside of work, make it a point always to leave work on time! The ones who are spending too much time at office are creating the wrong standard for the rest who wish to maintain a work-life balance. Some (like my senior I mentioned at the start of this post) do not know proper time management. Or they are plain lazy. They spend hours chatting away with coworkers and then suddenly realize they have a lot of work to do at 4 PM. The rest who spend their working hours productively get reprimanded for leaving office on time—office politics at its best.

I am not as privileged as before. I need to work to earn my bread and butter. I do not have a robust support system, yet I cannot get myself to be at the office post my work hours. I have many interests – my job is only a part of it. To deprive myself of all other interests for the sake of my career is plain sacrilege.

To maintain sanity, pursuing your hobbies and interests is a must. Why wait till retirement to do what you like?

Why I Stopped Buying Newspapers

I was the news explainer in my friend’s group.

I took it as a mission to understand current events, politics, issues, science, and other topics published in the dailies. I then took great joy in explaining to others what I learnt. It made me feel like a teacher. I felt like I was doing a service.

People do not have the time to read newspapers in detail or view online debates or discussions nowadays. They are not interested in digging deep because it takes a lot of time. But I was! I used to go through all news portals.

I hoped my explainers would aid busy friends in making better decisions and voicing better thoughts.

None of that happened.

It was a stark realization that no number of facts can change someone’s thinking if they are adamant on sticking to their beliefs.

Then I did the unimaginable. I stopped buying newspapers.

One fine day, after reading another mentally distressing news article, I knew it was time to let go. Why pay for something that mentally drains you? We pay therapists to help us, and then we pay to get our daily dose of pessimism from the papers.

A never-ending cycle.

Negativity sells. So you cannot really blame the papers. You will never see happy news printed in big, bold font types on the front page. That’s reserved for the shockers because that is the type of news that sells.

It is human psychology to drift towards things that are infuriating, depressing, triggering. Have you noticed how our mind suddenly decides it’s time to worry about something when we are in a state of bliss? It will rewind to the past and remind you of all the dreadful things. Or it will flash forward to the future and nudge you to start feeling concerned for yourself.

Our brain is just not wired to be in a state of joy 24/7.

Letting go of newspapers was hard. But I realized, if I paid for it, I would keep pushing myself to read it whether I wanted to or not – only because I did not want my money to go to waste.

I understood I wasn’t really reading the papers to enlighten myself of worldly matters, rather I was subjecting myself to it because I subscribed to it. It felt like a chore. It is like paying and getting a gym membership. Shelling out cash is a big motivator to get things done.

How did I feel when I stopped buying newspapers:

  • A bit lost at first and a lot of doubt “How am I going to survive without knowing everything in the world in-depth?
  • I slowly started getting used to it.
  • I realized I could live without reading every bit of news out there.
  • The important news always found its way to me – through social media, people around me, and google alerts set for the news type I wanted to receive.
  • Finally, a peace of mind.

I felt less cranky about things, less triggered when I let go of newspapers. The publishers send emails, messages with discount codes for annual subscriptions to lure me back in. I am not yet ready to make that commitment. I am not yet ready to sacrifice my uncluttered mind. I feel free, calm and composed.

Rape, deaths, racism, sexism are all important topics to cover. To read about them every day, though, is emotionally disturbing for someone sensitive like me. Speak up when you have to – your voice counts. But also know it is important to take breaks. If you find yourself getting agitated very often and it is affecting your relationships, it is time to cut off from the negatives. Your mental health should hold precedence over everything else including negative newspapers.

Breathe in the good shit.

Breathe out the bullshit.

An Ode to Celebrating Yourself in All Body Sizes

Photo by Anna Shvets

An Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) worker visited me today. She wanted to check if I took both my COVID-19 vaccination doses. I am incredibly thankful that activists in India are checking on us. A question she asked surprised me, however.

Did you lose weight?

A person whom I met once around 6 months ago remembered how I looked. It does not matter if you are plus-sized or a size zero; people remember your body size. It is a part of you.

She told me my face looked “fuller” before, hinting that she preferred my chubby cheeks.

Did you gain weight?

This question is what I got asked 6 months before by family, friends, relatives, even small kids. You would think kids do not care about body size, but there they are, commenting about how much weight you have gained.

They told me my face looked too “full,” hinting they preferred seeing me without my chubby cheeks.

Everywhere you go, people judge you for your body size. No one tells you, “You have the perfect body size.” So it is up to us to deem ourselves perfect in all sizes.

Being body positive means not to let “tags” define or trigger you. It means to accept yourself in all body sizes, whatever it chooses to evolve into tomorrow.

When people say I look thin, I say yes. When people say I have gained weight, I say yes. I am okay with both. They can pass their judgments or statements. It does not matter because I am comfortable with any form my body chooses to be.

Such open questions on weight are not going anywhere, unfortunately. I remember seeing a video by Supriya (@Supaarwoman) on Insta. She said when people call her fat, she tells them, “I am not going to take that as an insult because that’s my body type. You are just saying out loud what my body type is. Why should I be ashamed of my body type?” When you think of it that way, you realize that what she said makes a lot of sense.

When someone simply states your body type (aka “you are fat” or “you are thin”), why consider it as body shaming or an insult? When you take that power away from the perpetrator, and you truly embrace yourself for who you are, you become empowered.

Own your body type. When you do, you become body positive to the fullest degree.