Dutiful Reminder: It’s Okay To Take A Break Once In A While

As I’ve made abundantly clear, I do not enjoy the summertime. There’s too much pressure to have fun, there’s too much sun, too much humidity, and at some point it was made clear by the fashion industry that I am expected to wear ruffles. I have been counting down to Labour Day since May.

But I also hate summer because I am bad at taking time off. I am not good when I am not working, and my signal for taking a break tends to be getting so sick that I physically can’t — at least, until I take enough of whatever will get me back in the game, and then I can work from bed. I don’t work on weekends (SEE? I am learning), but Monday to Friday, I will happily work myself into the ground.

Which is something that’s a work in-progress for me, and that’s fine. It’s fine! I don’t know many people who live that sweet work-life balance, especially if they love what they do and want to do it all the time. Plus, work is the great distractor: it’s hard to focus on what might be going wrong in other areas if you can at least control your professional life.

But this week, I finished the first step of a pretty big project. In short, I finished the first draft of my book that’s about to undergo a million editing phases and will morph me into one of those dancing skeletons from that French series a bunch of us watched as kids. I am done step one of 259285285. But! I am going to tap into the Alexander Hamilton school of life lessons and take a break. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, switch whatever you’re listening to “Take A Break” from Hamilton — you will not regret it, and also you will end up going back and listening to the entire soundtrack, I promise you, and you are welcome.) And while I am very aware of the irony of writing about taking a break — aka I am currently working — this is the part where I say that breaks get to look like what you want them to.

The idea of “holidays” or “time off” is great. I love the idea of an extended period of time where I don’t do anything but exactly what I’d like to do. But also, as a freelancer writer, that’s not super realistic. I get paid depending on how much I work (which is great)! But it also means that if I say no to work, I say no to earning anything. Also: I like work. I like working and it keeps me centred and calm. But also: breaks mean I don’t crash and burn and die.

Which is the mantra I’ve been repeating while telling myself that a break during the summer doesn’t mean I’m subscribing to the summer holiday mandate (which makes me feel panicky and out of control) — it means that if I take a couple days off after finishing something big, it will be fine. I am just recharging my brain a bit, and I am not letting down anybody or myself or the world. Taking a break is fine and okay, even if it happens to fall outside of the traditional Christmas spectrum and during the season I hate the most. I’m still not a summer person. (I remind myself.) We’re still not subscribing to stupid summer norms (I am reminding you). But we are also allowed to let our brains rest for a second because otherwise, we’ll spend this godforsaken season feeling sick, and that’s a million times worse than spending it counting down to jacket weather.

Tags: Anne T. Donahue

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