I have recently been reflecting on the fact that I push myself pretty hard, perhaps too hard at times. I have always been this way, but since I stopped working full-time I have been even harsher on myself. I somehow discount all of the things I do because I do not wake up at a set time and trek off to some location other than my own apartment for eight hours a day, five days a week. Somehow editing student theses and articles for a professional journal, acting as choreographer, dancer, and administrator for my own dance company, dancing with two other dance companies, running a dance/movement therapy group once a week, completing an intensive yoga teacher training program, writing, and working on several other projects does not count as work. In my mind I have been doing a whole lot of nothing lately.
Because in my mind I have been doing a whole lot of nothing, I also believe that I do not deserve any time off. I do not deserve a day where I just relax and do nothing. I do not get to lounge on my couch and leisurely read or stroll through the park. I do not get to sleep in or take a nap. I do not deserve these luxuries that working people deserve. Only thing is, I rarely allowed myself these things even when I was working 40 hours a week outside of my own home. Where did this insanity come from? How did I actually convince myself that because I am doing something I enjoy or am able to do it during hours I choose it does not count as work? What water did I drink?
I know it is part of American culture. We are a society that works and takes very little time off. Did you know that Austria has a statutory minimum of 25 vacation days a year? France and Brazil have 30. Statutory. Do you know what that means? Required by law, folks. Here in the United States we are not required by law to be given or take days off. And we only get 15, on average, not statutory, days off each year. We work. We work jobs we hate. We work jobs that rob us of time with our family and friends. We work jobs that stifle our individuality and creativity. Okay, not everyone does, but many, many people do. And we don’t even get rewarded with significant amounts of time off.
Well, today I took the day off. I slept in. I played and cuddled with my cat. I watched the rain fall outside my windows. Okay, I did a little work. It was, however, very minimal in comparison to most days. I did clean a little too. So, not truly a day of, but pretty damn close for me. I am now sipping pumpkin ale preparing for a grand evening of nothing. I may watch TV. I may read. I may even go to bed at a reasonable hour despite last night’s 9 1/2 hours of sleep. Most importantly though, I will not allow myself to feel guilty for my day of nothingness.