Type A personality. If you knew me in high school or college, you would never have guessed. I wonder, is it possible to grow into a Type A personality? According to most of the articles I’ve read, the personality type is inborn and does not change. Perhaps it was just lying dormant until I hit my late 20’s, early 30’s? Up until that point, I was quite laidback (bordering on lazy) and flitted between different dreams and goals — hoping that someone would make all my decisions for me, tell me what to do. Basically, hiding.
I had some successes during my early years but gave up fairly quickly if things didn’t look like they were going to end perfectly. “Unfortunately, because they are so passionate, and because true success takes patience, any sort of early failure easily discourages them. They are likely to pack up and change careers in a heartbeat.” For example, in high school I loved playing basketball and had true potential. I went to college specifically so I could continue playing. I also enjoyed college and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, initially. Then, after a few small “failures”, I began to lose desire, fear disapproval, and eventually became ineligible and flunked out of school. The sad truth is not that I couldn’t do the work, but that I wouldn’t. (If I could have one “do-over”, that would be it; to go back to school and finish.)
After that, I flailed like a fish on dry land for several years. In my mid-twenties, I got a job as a 9-1-1 dispatcher and “bing”; it hit with full force – Type A transformation. Over the years, I have become more and more controlling, rigid and impatient with inefficiency!
The theory describes Type A individuals as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, sensitive, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics”. They push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.
I could easily have become a workaholic except that I had four kids and I just didn’t have the time or energy. I left the job at 911 because I needed a “day job”; one that would provide more time for my children. The jobs I’ve had since being a 911 dispatcher were often simple jobs that I made more complicated by trying to achieve something greater than just answering the phone and taking notes at meetings. I struggled with the inefficiencies of typical office politics and idiocy. “They have trouble understanding the stupidity of others. They don’t believe themselves to necessarily be exceptionally gifted or genius. So why is it that they are competent when almost everyone else seems like a moron?”
Those jobs were just a means of earning an income — certainly not a “career” and by no means anything with status or potential for greatness. Working beneath your ability is difficult when you are Type A — so you perform your duties to the extreme, above and beyond what is necessary. You feel abused and belittled; unfulfilled.
Fast forward to retirement.
“If you have a Type A personality, transitioning to retirement may be especially difficult. After you retire, you will no longer have an impressive job title or management responsibilities. Job status will no longer matter. You will be on the same level as any other retiree. You are more likely to feel lost or adrift due to a lack of purpose, structure, and responsibility.” How to Successfully Retire If You Have a Type A Personality – Dave Hughes
The good news? Because I didn’t have an “impressive job title”, my job status hasn’t changed much since retirement. Yes, I do feel adrift sometimes but I also feel free from the drudgery, the frustration and the anger. There is freedom to choose my direction. Retirement isn’t just rolling with the flow – although there is an awful lot of that! Type A’s need a plan, a list, a goal – no matter how small. The difficulty comes in letting go of the time management structure. There is so much time and every moment of the day does NOT need to be plotted out.
When I first retired, I was so thrilled to have all of this time to write to my hearts’ content. I could write another play, a memoir, a novel!!! However, writing as a type A can be difficult. I will spend hours searching for topics. I will spend two thirds of that time in an internal battle over whether or not I should be writing at all. If it isn’t done perfectly, it isn’t worth doing. Blah, blah, blah. Can type A personalities also have OCD and ADD? I wonder…
Quotes in italics are from the article: The 25 Things That People With Type A Do – Paul Hudson