By any and all accounts, this past weekend should have been one for the books. I was, for starters, all but snowed into my house after Winter Storm Jonas did a number on my area. And because the semester had only just ended, my weekend homework load was relatively light. Sounds like a recipe for good times, right? Snow plus no homework equals free time, which should in turn translate to hours spent in the coziest clothes, binging on movies and tv shows and indulging in sumptuous foods.
In other words, my weekend had the potential to play out like every teenager’s dream.
Notice my use of the word “potential.” Alas, my two days of what sounded like complete bliss were, in fact, kind of the opposite. Rather than watching endless Netflix shows I spent most of my time perched on my bed in an agonizing state of panic, confusion, and frustration.
What, did my house loose Internet at the completely wrong time? Or, even worse, did the heat go out? No, none of those things happened. The situation was that I simply could not figure out how to have fun. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get my brain to stop nagging me about what I “should” be doing instead. It was like a had a tiger mother sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear “You really should get ahead on x” or “Are you sure you’re done with y? What about z?” It seemed that, after weeks spending a majority of my time doing decidedly not-fun things, like schoolwork, I couldn’t remember how to let loose and actually enjoy something.
Now, it’s not as if I never take time for myself. On weekends, I always spend three hours in the evening doing whatever I want, be that listening to my endless queue of podcasts, cooking or baking, writing blog posts, etc. But even those moments, enjoyable as they might be, are often accompanied by feelings of guilt. “Is this the best use of my time?”, “Does taking a break make me a bad student?,” all of these are thoughts that cross my mind whenever I do something that isn’t homework or studying or test prep. It wasn’t until this weekend, however, that I turned that harsh lens inward. “What wrong with me?” I thought. “Since when did having fun become more stressful than doing actual work?”
For the most part, I think I know that answer to the above question. As a Type A personality, I live for the sense of accomplishment that comes with crawling into bed after a long day of “getting stuff done.” So it’s not all that surprising that a lazy, low on accomplishments day would be unfulfilling for me. But I also refuse to accept that my inability to relax and enjoy the moment is merely a symptom of my personality. A majority of it, I believe, stems from society’s current metric of success. In terms of career, we’re told that the best workers are those who pull the craziest hours, who sleep with their phone in hand, and barely take time to eat, let alone seriously relax. The same thing happens with school: When people talk about high-achieving students, the words “all-nighter” and “sacrifice” often come up. And while I’m not saying we shouldn’t be dedicated to our classes and jobs, I think its pretty clear that society’s definition of success does not place decompressing high on its endless to-do list.
So, here’s my goal for 2016 (it’s not to late to add another one, right?): This year, I want to take back the fun. I want to let go of the guilt that comes with taking time for myself. As I write this, a part of me is laughing at myself. In the coming months, I’m facing a flurry of classes, extracurricular events, standardized testing, AP exams…in other words, it’s kind of a weird time for me to prioritize having fun. But, in reality, I’m not going to change what I’m doing all that much. My free time will still be limited to those few hours on weekend evenings, but I’m going to focus on really enjoying those moments. No more guilt, no more asking myself “should i be doing x instead?” Just letting go, 100%.
I really hope this post was relatable for a few of you out there. Despite my own struggles, I genuinely believe that taking time for yourself without stress or guilt is one of the best things you can do, both for yourself and for others. If you find yourself struggling with this, I encourage you to join me on me quest to embrace the fun. Something tells me it could be the best time…ever. 😉