Hey, everyone!! It’s been a while since we last spoke, literally and figuratively. Since the last couple of posts, a lot has been going on that has affected all of us. Some of it good, some of it bad, but all of it needed (to some degree). My last post was on June 3rd–even though I can assume that people expected me to write about the Black Lives Matter movement, I just did not have the words, the emotional stability, or the energy. Quite frankly, I still don’t. Writing my last post was not an intentional decision to detract from conversations going on, but I did want to give spotlight to that virtual event in real time. A lot more time has passed and I feel I can at least write something more…coherent. Continue reading “Keep Going”→
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.”
Yesterday, I turned 24! While that may not generally be a significant age/milestone, it has turned out to be for me and here is why.
Oftentimes, I find myself worrying about my youth. To others, 24 is not old and I by no means see it as old either, but I am constantly asking myself, “Where did the time go?” I graduated from high school six years ago and when I reflect on college just three years ago, I immediately think of all the time I spent studying, napping, and doing laundry. But what about the fun times? I would never downplay the priceless memories of living with seven other girls, joining my dance team, going abroad, and meeting people who will be my friends for the rest of my life; however, when all of those moments were taking place, I can’t help but feel like I wasn’t totally present. I was always one foot in, one foot out, constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop or prematurely mourning a good time because I didn’t want it to end. Of course we all want to hold on to great moments and if we could, we’d live them over and over, but I’m just talking about not allowing myself to be free and leave my worries behind.
I feel like I lost a lot of my time during my late teens and early 20’s to fear, inhibition, and stress. If I had to explain why, you would be reading my autobiography, but I hate that I allowed that to happen. What I want from turning 24–and moving forward in the rest of my life–is to truly start letting go. I think I have actually written previously on this blog about “letting go,” but I am ready for the weight that I put on myself to be lifted off my shoulders. I spend so much time in my head and focus greatly on self-preservation and trying to build a better character. While there are great things about that, I am also hurting myself by not being physically present in everyday life. I need to just live my life in the way that makes me happiest. That includes reminding myself that nothing (and no one) is perfect and that I should not benchmark any part of my life against another person. It is time to stop punishing myself for not being someone else, and to start accepting myself for who I am.
For me, the year of 24 is more than just being more outgoing and saying “yes” to things more often–it is about quieting that negative, doubting voice. It is about breaking down my own barriers and throwing away the hypothetical guide to life. What I expect, no, set for this year and beyond is more laughter, more openness to experience and others, and finally living with eyes and heart wide open. 24 is The Year of Letting Go.