I was 28 years old when my co-worker, the Retirement Consultant, said those words to me. When I laughed at her likening me to Peter Pan it was because I knew my mortality was real. Setting up my retirement plan was the first step I had taken in planning for my future Peter could be a child forever, but one day I’d be a senior citizen. I never wanted to be a working senior citizen.
At that age, I had been out of college and working full time for four years. I held three jobs in that four years and not once had I taken the initiative to plan for my future. I focused on the bills I need to pay now, the vacations I want to go on, the shoes that would be cute with the dress I have my eye on. Each obligation more pressing than the money I would need 40 years from now.
Still, I was often nagged by a little birdie; a co-worker who was opening hers, a friend in finance. I always had my reasons to dispute those voices. Not even the fact that I worked in Human Resources, where the opportunity presented itself every day, was good enough reason.
Finally, one week my reasons lost their relevance. I realized that the soles on new shoes become worn, the dress is rarely as pretty as it is on the mannequin, the vacations eventually become pictures on social media and the memories fade. The bills….the bills never quite go away but retirement age? It draws nearer by the day. And as each day passes, I was losing an opportunity to save.
Friday I sat down with the retirement consultant at work. Together we laid the excuses to rest; I set up a 403B. As we talked over next steps and plan options she said something very important.
“It’s time to grow up. Say goodbye to Peter Pan.”
That statement instantly struck a chord in me. Those few words made what I was doing clear as day; saying goodbye to the idea that I would be young forever. Seven years later I have since changed career paths, lifestyles, and made more impactful choices about my life. I am adulting. I have said goodbye to Peter Pan but there will always be a little bit of Tinker Bell in me.
According to Wikipedia, “The extremes in her personality are explained in the story by the fact that a fairy’s size prevents her from holding more than one feeling at a time, so when she is angry she has no counterbalancing compassion.” Tall, and far from a fairy, those personality extremes are all me… compartmentalizing to avoid Peter Panning while adulting.