Retirement is a word that doesn’t really exist in my vocabulary. As a young adult just getting on my feet in my late twenties I have many things going against me. 1) The lack of significant monetary funds that exist in my retirement account. 2) The questionable future of social security income. 3) I don’t even know what I want to do when I “grow up”. Those are just the first three things that come to mind but I’m sure there’s more. So when I get invited to a Retirement Celebration I don’t even know where to start. Is this a celebration of a successful career? Is this the celebration of a 40-year trap that you’re finally escaping? Or is this a launching pad into the greatest and grandest, next best phase of your life? As I ponder what is an appropriate gift to bring to a retirement party I have these thoughts and questions.
To make more sense of this let me back up to the beginning. It was November 2007 when I had my first interview for a “real job” after graduating college that May. To be honest, I’m not even sure I really wanted this job but I NEEDED a job, any job; with benefits would be a bonus. So as I called to schedule my interview and he suggested “early morning”, I said “How about 9:00 am?” In a rather shocking tone, he replied, “Well that’s not really early, but we can make it work”. You see, Greg, the President of the First State Bank of St. Joseph, is a rather timely and orderly man. Little did he know my bubbly, outgoing, loud personality was about to bust into his corner office and shake the mold.
This job was the largest stepping stone into my young adulthood and although it was a Customer Service job in banking, I learned more about life lessons that will stick with me forever. I learned 1) it was important to show up on time. Never mastered it though. I learned 2) how to hand wash dishes in a breakroom sink. Can’t we buy a dishwasher? I learned 3) how to water plants every Friday so they didn’t die. Really I just wanted to get away from my desk. I learned 4) the art of customer service. Of which I practice every single day. I learned 5) a lot about debits and credits. Yet I still have never balanced my checkbook in a register to the exact penny. I learned 6) how a man should treat a woman. And why I deserved that. You see my first banking job was intended to teach me federal regulations, month-end reporting, and how to balance a vault. What it really taught me was how to dress professionally, take my job seriously, to present clean and correct information, how to speak in front of a Board of Directors, and the ins and outs of accounting, finance, Excel, compliance regulations, and much more.
The day I walked into my President’s office with tears rolling down my cheeks to resign hits the Top 10 list of Hardest Moments of My Life. All that I know for sure was that a power greater than myself was telling me it was time. It was time to move home and take a leap of Faith with the promise that my future would be laid out before me. My resignation was a launching pad into the next three years in commercial and small business banking. It was the launching pad to networking groups that have created life-long friendships. It was the launching pad to purchase my second home as a young, single female. It was the launching pad to show my family that they’re #1. It was the launching pad to let me dream bigger and follow my passions. It was the greatest launching pad to leave seven years of banking behind and become an entrepreneur, owning two businesses that allow me to build others’ confidence and to help them chase their dreams.
To my President, as you prepare for your Retirement, let it be similar to my resignation. Although I have no regrets for that day, I want to Thank You for letting me go. Thank you for instilling the confidence in me to chase my other dreams. Thank you for “domesticating” me as you would say, to teach me to be a woman who can lead, work hard, be successful, and be a servant to others. My hope for you is that your Retirement brings you the biggest blessings yet in your life, the ones you couldn’t even imagine for yourself. May the opportunities be endless, the friendships be made new, and your passion for life and serving others be forever renewed.