On Monday I sent in my official notice of retirement from the School of Computing at Queen’s University; December 31 will be my last day. At age 69 and after 39 years there (depending on how you count my 15 years of disability leave), it was time to accept that my mental health status is something Queen’s can’t accommodate. They’ve done fairly well by me in that regard since I returned to work in 2014, but the stress of being a professor at a university has become too much for me.
I’ve mentioned depression before, and commented how my 15 years’ disability leave for it had made it very difficult to achieve the research standards required for promotion from Associate to Full Professor. I am retiring as an Associate, which, by the Queen’s Board of Trustees’ rules, means I can’t get Emeritus status. But retirees are allowed to keep their professional email addresses, get access to the library, and (subject to resource constraints) share an office with some other members of the School. So I may still do a bit of academic writing from time to time.
Unlike some (former?) workaholics, I’ve been figuring out my post-retirement life for several years now, so I don’t think I’ll be facing the “what do I do now?” problem some of us have. At the moment that seems likely to involve fiction-writing, which has been my main hobby for quite some time. There are some academic books I’ve wanted to write for decades that might now be possible to work on (which is kind of a sad commentary on what my working life was like). There are things I’ve wanted to study for a long time; the last new major technology I learned may have been Java, back in the late 1990’s before I went on disability leave. Maybe I can finally learn how Unity works.
But a life of the mind isn’t the only thing I’m looking forward to. I’ve been working 2/3 time for the last year and a half (a “phased retirement” plan that became possible when the University Pension Plan came in a few years ago), and have come to enjoy being able to live a more spontaneous lifestyle than was possible under the pressures of full-time academic life.
I used to wonder how I’d feel when I finally retired. Since Monday, it’s mostly been relieved, peaceful and hopeful. I welcome this new phased of my life.