When preparing for a marathon, most runners follow a strict training program. Starting a few months ahead of time, they begin with runs of a few miles and eventually build up to a peak of around 18 miles before ramping back down before race day. Unlike people running a shorter race like a 10k, it’s not recommended to actually run the full distance while in training. That 26.2 miles is too hard on the body and requires too much recovery time. The idea is that when race day comes your legs will ache, your lungs will burn, and your feet will scream, but you’ll rise to the occasion using adrenaline and willpower to get through the final stretch to the finish line.
With only two weeks left of work and three weeks until I move out of my apartment, I’ve hit the home stretch of this journey that is my professional career. And like the marathon runner after mile 20, I’m persisting solely through determination (and caffeine) at this point. My body is not happy. I’m sleeping very poorly and my brain is fried. For a few weeks, I was often waking up in the middle of the night, unable to fall back asleep for hours at a time due to thoughts racing around my head unabated.
Luckily that awake-half-the-night phase has passed, most likely due to sheer exhaustion. I’m still not sleeping well and often wake up before my alarm goes off, but it’s preferable to the frustrating feeling of watching my bedside alarm clock tick through 3am, 4am, and 5am knowing that the 6:30am wake up call is coming. It was bad enough that if I thought it was a long term thing, I would have started seeking professional help.
It’s easy to surmise that my body’s current state is a symptom of being unprepared for retirement. But I don’t really feel scared or nervous. It’s probably there, but it’s at least somewhat hidden beneath the surface of my conscious thoughts. I’ve worked and reworked the numbers and plans many times over. Even the worst case scenario isn’t all that troubling. Most of my actual thoughts are not concerning fears about retirement, losing a steady paycheck, or running out of money. Instead I’m mostly consumed with worries about the process of getting rid of all of our possessions.
This is different than your normal spring cleaning or donating some unwanted clothes. It’s not just excess stuff that’s no longer needed or things that are considered clutter. We have to get rid of the things we use constantly, and will continue to use right up to departure. When I move around my apartment, all I see is work that must be done. It’s kind of an overwhelming feeling. It’s like I’m unable to fully relax because I’m constantly being reminded of this daunting task.
Due to this lack of sleep and constant stress, my day to day life is only partially functional right now. Normal tasks have started to become difficult to complete. My email inbox has nearly 100 unread emails, up from an average of about 6. I’m extremely scatterbrained and am having trouble concentrating on any single task (such as writing posts for this blog) for periods of more than about 5 minutes at a time. I have a stronger than normal urge to drink alcohol and eat junk food. To top it off, it’s allergy season and there is pollen coating everything. Even with antihistamines, my eyes are often itchy and swollen. While it makes for a really beautiful landscape, it’s just piling onto my self-induced problems.
Despite these issues, I really have gotten a lot done. I have dropped off multiple bags of clothes to Goodwill and donated smaller items of furniture to our neighborhood scavengers by placing them on the curb. I’ve been to the doctor and received vaccinations to guard against diseases that are more prominent in other parts of the world like Hepatitis A and Typhoid. I’ve digitized my favorite movies that I was still watching via DVD, since I don’t want to be without The Big Lebowski or A Christmas Story if I need a taste of home when I’m thousands of miles away.
What’s bothering me the most is that there is no logical reason why purging this stuff is so worrying. I certainly don’t have any emotional attachment to it. I’ll have up to 10 full days after I quit to dedicate to the task, so it doesn’t need to be done right now anyway. And even if I don’t complete it before the end of the month, all that happens is that I leave some stuff behind and get dinged a fee from my security deposit. At most, that’s only $1300. So while I don’t like the idea of wasting $1300, it’s hardly the end of the world. And yet, I cannot stop thinking about it. It’s like the logical side of my brain decided to retire early as well. That’s really the strangest thing about how I’m feeling, because I can pretty much always adjust my mindset based on logic when needed.
I’m fully prepared to look back at this post in 6 months and laugh about it. I have 2 weeks left until I can retire at the age of 42. So I had some trouble sleeping for a couple months. Boo fucking hoo. But I’m putting it out there because I don’t want this blog to represent some perfectly curated picture of a false reality. Even though this upcoming early retirement travel adventure will probably be great overall, I’m sure it won’t be 100% great 100% of the time. I feel like it’s important to share the difficult parts as well.
I also wanted to provide this update to let everyone know that while I haven’t published many posts lately, I have loads of partially finished material that I want to write about. I just haven’t had the time or concentration level to actually complete any of it. So have no fear, despite this lull in posting, the Bonus Nachos blog is not ending before it’s even gotten started. I just need to drag my tired brain across this finish line and then get on the road to recovery.