The September issue is the magazine world’s equivalent of January, its very own new year… it’s the magazine edition that is the biggest, the most influential and the one with the strongest fashion pull. The autumn/winter season always has more influence than spring/summer – September spells the end of summer. – Ella Alexander, Glamour UK Magazine, 2016
As fashion month comes to close and I mourn all the fashion weeks I have yet to be a guest at, I revel in the fact that it is finally fall. To start, I guess I should say I have never really been a summer girl to begin with: it’s hot, everywhere is crowded, and travel is expensive. I also feel at my absolute worst in summer as I detailed in a very personal post around this time last year. Unfortunately, it was no different this year where I found myself experiencing those all too familiar feelings and, more intensely, asking myself, “What am I doing with my life?”
This isn’t completely travel-related, but for some, it might be.
Like many other Americans, I am a hoarder of my accrued time off. It is a combination of a million “just in case” mental scenarios as well as a general environment that we cultivate here in the States that taking time off for anything that isn’t an emergency or family-related is equivalent to laziness. The only time you get a ‘social’ pass is for that one-week, all-inclusive beach trip you planned eight to 10 months in advance where you will likely still find yourself working remotely.
Why do we restrict ourselves from utilizing our time off? Correction: why do we restrict ourselves from utilizing time off that we worked for and is paid? And when we do use time off, why don’t we fully enjoy it? I understand I am in an ideal position where my only responsibility at the moment is myself; I don’t have to worry about having a safety stash based on kids’ schedules, an elderly member of my family that depends on me for care, or even getting sick (*knock on wood*). But it is also no secret that I struggle with a mental illness and I have to face the fact that I might need a day here and there to just re-stabilize.
The idea for this post came to me because I am currently saving my time off for a long birthday trip I am taking to Europe at the end of May. With the exception of two pre-planned days, I have not taken time off, or been on a plane, since this past October. Working in operations, I didn’t get the holidays off so it has been nonstop for me for the last six months. I finally took a trip this weekend to break the fly-atus for which I did not have to use any time off, but even waiting for this weekend to arrive has shown me that maybe it is time to start investing in time off at home.
Like many other people, I feel not only lazy, but also guilty to be sitting at home while others are working. I also get that feeling around mid-afternoon where I think to myself, “You’re wasting a whole day.” How can that be if my intention for that day was to relax and reset my mind? Naturally, I then take myself into a downward spiral of how I could have saved this time for a trip I have always wanted to go on, but this is why I used the term ‘invest’ in time off. It is going to take more than putting my physical self in a different space–I have to remind myself that I worked for these days, I am entitled to these days, and understand that I will ultimately be a better person to others in my social and professional settings because of it. No matter how much sleep you get or what you do when you get home from work, everyone experiences burnout from the rotating demands of everyday life.
Think about it: what benefit do you get from hoarding your time for one week (or a little more) of vacation when you have to work the other 51 weeks of the year? That’s a long time to go without a break! I have explained many times on this blog that my work schedule is not a traditional schedule. So while I would love to just take a day every month to tack onto my weekend to go on a trip, the people I like to travel with have to bend to their own struggle with time off to coordinate with me. This is partly why I have been trying to find new things to do here in Dallas, but also why I need to find solace in the silence of not having anywhere to be or anyone to talk to.
Travel will always be my preferred way to regroup, so I understand more than anyone that saving up your time to go on a vacation is a higher priority than one day’s rest on the couch. But the point is that if you ever feel you do need that one day’s rest or just a mental escape from the monotony of the daily routine, you should indulge and not feel guilty for it. Hopefully nobody reading this is as close to the edge of burnout as I am currently and can instead pick and plan a day to take care of themselves in whatever way they see fit. Remember: you worked for it, you are entitled to it, and you will ultimately be a better person to others when you take a break every now and then for yourself.
On December 3rd, I made a decision to quiet my mind for the last month of 2018. This meant less of anything that caused my thoughts–specifically negative thoughts–to run rampant in order to give myself a mental break. There are things I cannot avoid like having to interact and be ‘on’ at work, but when I get home, I try to do whatever I can that allows me to be productive without making my mind spiral. As recently written, I am finally delving into the causes for my depression and seemingly increasing levels of anxiety. But in order to do this, I needed to almost fully break down. I intentionally retreated for most of December and part of my retreat was disabling my social media.
I did not deactivate my Facebook or Snapchat because they do not give you an option to temporarily deactivate, so I just deleted the apps from my phone. Instagram, however, does give you an option to temporarily disable so I did that as well as deleting the app from my phone. It’s funny because despite the content I create and how much I enjoy sharing it, I barely spent any time on social media in terms of engagement. I only view what my closest friends are posting and then I close the apps. But that’s kind of weird, isn’t it? I don’t scroll or engage with other people because I don’t want to see what people are doing. I already know that it will cause me to start comparing my life to others’, despite my logical side completely refuting it. So, I avoid it altogether. That’s just…not good.
I am a product of my generation, so I ended up signing back in on December 30th to share my most recent project. I wrote part of this post ahead of time in anticipation of having a list of new revelations from the break; however, I found myself re-reading what I wrote on my first post of 2018 and realizing I am in the exact same position, if not worse. I am not going to sit here and talk about how disappointed I am that I did not commit to making things better for myself this past year. I wish I had a list of things that I concretely learned this past month from being ‘disconnected.’ Instead, I am making a decision that I no longer want or need to do better–I have to. I will say, if I learned anything from this break it is that my journey to love and acceptance (in all forms) is going to be a long, strenuous but necessary process. No matter how I write it, there will be people who do not understand or cannot relate to what I am talking about, but what others think is slowly becoming less of a priority.
If 2018 was the year of letting go, 2019 is the year of closure. I pride myself in recognizing my shortcomings and I hope plan to look back this time next year and say, “Look how far I’ve come.”
I have been apprehensive to write this post. It is never easy opening up about personal struggles especially in a world where people my age have so much. I can already feel and hear the “What do you have to complain about? Millennials always want something for nothing,” sneers, but this is not complaining–this is a validation of my own feelings and experiences. I knew that I had been wanting to write something more personal while I have been on a second fly-atus, and funnily enough, it took listening to a track off of Ariana Grande’s new album, Sweetener, called “get well soon” to push me to write it. So today, I want to open up about where I have been mentally in the last three or so months.
I tried to articulate my feelings about my life in a post last year, but I have since deleted that post because I felt that I focused too much on trying to make it translatable to my readers rather than just being honest. However, I feel exactly the same now as I did then: stuck, disappointed, and unmotivated. I find myself in this mood more often in the summer months which really is a contrast to the common feelings toward summer: happiness, freedom, fun, etc. For me, it is a time when I am reminded of my physical insecurities which makes me feel uncomfortable in my clothes; which prevents me from wanting to socialize; which makes me stay indoors by myself; which further leads me down a spiral of being stuck with my negative thoughts about my choices with my life.
In a reflection about turning 24, I discuss how I am learning to accept that my youth is not over. People my age, including myself, freak out about getting closer to 30 because we have idealized that 30 is the age when everything should be in place. When you realize that 18 and 30 are the same distance away from 24, you are reminded of how much time has passed and how quickly you have been catapulted into a life of responsibility and routine. So when I am currently spending my three-day weekends sitting at a friend’s house in a different state (which is not as common as people think) or sitting at home doing absolutely nothing, I am torn between enjoying relaxing, and feeling guilty for not being out and living life to the fullest as a young 20-something. These feelings of confusion over what I “should be” doing are not new. Continue reading “Let’s Get Personal”→