Let me paint you a picture of this perfect moment in time. As I write this, I am laying in my bed with the windows open, a Green Tea Lemonade on my bedside table, and what can only estimate as the fifteenth episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia streaming on Netflix. It’s 11am on a Sunday morning, and I have yet to do anything that has required more than 50% of my body to rise (I’ve gotten extremely good at both bribing people into Starbucks runs and contorting myself to reach things from my bed).
Even in this blissful time, where I literally have nowhere to be and nothing to do, I feel a small sting of worry and anxiety. This coming week is my vacation from work, and as much as I hate to admit it, I feel a slight panic in the back of my mind, one that is both completely baffling and extremely common in the world today.
I would never, in a million years, classify myself as a “workaholic”. Currently, I work full time in an accounting position while I finish my Master’s degree in English Literature (I know, weird juxtaposition), and while I admit at time it gets hectic, I am able to make it work. So, where is this worry coming from? This is my first free week in over two years, the first time where no one is expecting me to analyze British literature in a post-colonial context or run reports on dozens of payment accounts. How is it possible that in this freedom, I feel so much stress?
In the working world today, especially in regards to recent graduates, I think that there is a concern that we need to prove our worth to our employers. We need to show them that we are of value to them, and that the handful of peers who are frantically looking for jobs and who would kill to take our places cannot do what we do for them. The job market today is not in our favor, and we worry that our removal from our positions, even for a week, will somehow erase everything we have done and cause us to become obsolete.
I am the youngest person in my department by at least 5-10 years, and I think that sometimes I feel I have more to prove in terms of not only the caliber of my work, but also in the amount of tasks I am able to balance. Without me there, will they start to think that I am expendable? Will I come back and find that tasks have been delegated to other workers because they did them quicker or more efficiently?
These worries are the reason that many Americans opt to not even take time off, which becomes even more detrimental and in theory could hurt their work more than a week away would. We are burning ourselves out in order to prove ourselves, and as odd as it seems, sometimes getting away can actually make us better at what we do. This week is mine, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let worrying about expense reports take me away from laying out in the sun and “forgetting” to set alarms on my phone.
Our generation is, in my opinion, the one that is going to change the world. And, with that, I think we need to start understanding our individual worth and the importance of what we bring to our careers, whatever they may be. Taking a break and recharging our inner batteries (which reminds me, my laptop is on 3%…great) is not going to cost us everything we work so hard for during the other 51 weeks of the year.
So, take breaks. Drive to the beach with your windows open and Taylor Swift blaring on your radio (shameless plug for my love of the modern day queen), and let yourself off the hook. Your desk will still be there when you get back, and I promise your tan will look amazing even under those god-awful fluorescent lights.