This week marks a month into the school semester, and trust me, I can feel it. Things have calmed down since that first overwhelming week of class, but I still find myself pretty busy with my jobs, classes, homework, and other commitments. Some days I float on, totally fine, situation normal. Other days, I have to work to keep my head above the ocean of tasks.
Each week has its mix of good and bad days, but the past week in particular felt like I was barely treading water. I had some fun things planned for the weekend, so I decided I was going to take a “vacation” – I wasn’t going to worry about all of the nonsense that was cluttering my brain, I was just going to enjoy the things I had planned.
When I say vacation, I don’t mean I completely slacked off on my responsibilities. I still had things that had to get done, and I made sure they would be. Mainly, I had a lot of reading to do – such is the curse of being an English major.
So instead of goofing off after work on Friday, I did some of my reading so I could watch a movie with a friend that evening. Even though I had plans to be out and about on Saturday and Sunday, I woke up earlier than necessary so I could complete more of the reading. I was staying afloat – even working ahead in some ways.
Because of that, I could be free to do the fun things I had planned. My friends and I finally got to go to Hershey Park that Saturday – we’d been trying to all summer, but it never happened. We rode all of the rollercoasters, visited the zoo, got fancy bubble drinks, and just enjoyed being in each other’s company for a day.
The next day, I went on an adventure to see one of my long-distance friends in her hometown. We visited the local landmarks, stopped in a used game store (one of my favorite things), bought flannels at Goodwill, and watched one of my favorite bands perform an acoustic show (and met them too).
I made good memories over the weekend, and I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.
And yet, waking up on Monday morning and looking at my big to-do list, I could feel guilt weighing down on my shoulders. I looked at the list and though, I shouldn’t have watched that movie on Friday, I shouldn’t have spent so much time in Hershey, I should’ve listened to the audiobook in the car…
In some ways, it’s like flying in an airplane. As stressful as that experience can be, it’s also peaceful – no one can bother you outside of the cabin, and you’re flying thousands of feet above the rest of the nonsense going on. Then you land, and the chaos of the airport terminal punches you in the stomach and you start to think that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
For someone who’s extremely task-oriented, it’s hard to let myself enjoy things. Whenever I actually do something I want to do, I somehow end up making myself feel guilty afterwards – that time I spent watching a YouTube video over dinner could’ve been spent reading a book for class, or I could’ve written a blog post instead of going out with my friends.
As I’m writing this blog post and looking at my to-do list, I accomplished everything that I needed to get done for today and tomorrow. I refuse to feel guilty about my “vacation” – I enjoyed it, it was good for me, and I still completed the tasks that were given to me. Perhaps some things didn’t get done in the manner I would’ve liked them to, but they did get done.
I’m learning to be better at this. There’s nothing wrong with stepping away from the to-do lists and color-coded planners, and I won’t allow myself to feel guilty about it.