I recently enjoyed a visit with a dear friend, whom I hadn’t seen face to face for several years. She was staying with us during a surprise trip through the state. From the sitting area in our home to the restaurants we visited, a theme for our conversations emerged.

Both of us are in the midst of significant life transitions, finding ourselves navigating the uncharted waters of retirement. As seekers, it’s not unusual for us to face such phases with a mix of curiosity and introspection. Over steaming cups of coffee or a glass of wine, we delved into our experiences, sharing the unexpected challenges and surprising joys that this new chapter has brought us.

For the past couple of years, I have been semi-retired. Though I still run a small business, the minimal administrative tasks and occasional visits hardly constitute what one might call a “job.” My friend, similarly situated in the traditional retirement years, still manages her own business too, approaching it in her unique way too. She only does things that bring her joy.

For both of us, being retired, even semi, has brought up a lot of internal “stuff.” When I reflect on our shared experiences, it reminds me of a workshop series I participated in years ago that featured the ‘7 Faces of the Soul.’ Content was originally channeled by Lazaris.

While we were studying the material in class all those years ago, I felt a deep internal conviction that I already understood the truth of these 7 Faces of the Soul. Therefore, it didn’t feel like I was learning new material, but rather like I was remembering it.

At the time, as a group, we were much more focused on the “Wounding,” the 4th Face of the Soul. Yet, during this visit, I kept thinking about the “Double,” or the sixth face. My interpretation of the Double, at the time, was that it was a time of owning our wisdom, becoming a Sage, and deepening our understanding of ourselves through our lifetime of experience and self-reflection. To me, this meant we had learned what we needed to learn and it was time to share it with others.

My friend is certainly wise and sage, and I have my moments. However, I realized through our conversation that even a Sage or Wise Elder is still learning.

Now that I am in my “retirement years,” I realize I had a very juvenile perspective on what retirement would mean. It meant you stopped working and enjoyed the rest of your life doing whatever you loved.

Let me assure you that this is not the case.

Sure, you have more time to do the things you love. But there is also a bit of a mind-f*ck that happens. You realize that the first question most people ask when they meet you is, “What do you do?”

Culturally, our identity is largely defined by the work we perform. This means that self-worth, image, and identity issues confront us almost immediately and frequently when we stop working, or, in my case, significantly reduce our work.

This is not about the people asking the question; it is about what goes on inside our own heads and even hearts when asked. For me, it is also in the quiet moments when I’m alone, and invariably, my internal inquiry is, “What’s next?” Don’t get me wrong; I love where I am and the freedom that I’ve created. Yet there are still parts of me that struggle with this internal inquiry, “What should I be doing?”

My initial thought was that I needed to shed those old expectations. However, upon further reflection, it appears that this is more about embracing a new level of self-learning and self-awareness. This, too, is part of our personal growth.

When we are willing to sit in the discomfort of the unknown and listen for and to the voice of our internal guidance without trying to figure it out with our mind or ego, something new and beautiful will emerge.