Repeat After Me: You deserve a break

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I think it’s safe to say that everyone is feeling a little more than burnout this week. We’re just over halfway done with the term. The world is starting to feel warm and sunny again. We’re all itching to escape to the outside and run away from our priorities. I’m finding it hard to even wash my dishes at this point. Everything seems to take three times as long as it should. 

Even as I confess how tired I am from doing work, I’m still doing it. I get myself up every morning and I go through my tasks. As much as a struggle it is, I turn in my work and I make deadlines. Even though I’m still staying on top of my work, I find it hard to take a true break. 

I’ve always been really bad at relaxing. To me, everything I need to do feels so urgent that I just can’t take a break. When I do try and relax, I spend my time running through my to-do list, thinking about how I’m going to get everything done this week. Because of this, I kind of feel like I’m always slightly panicking, so any time off doesn’t actually re-energize me.  

I know I’m not the only one suffering from a weird combination of procrastination and feeling the need to overachieve. Even though I’m trying to unlearn basing my self-worth off of my academic success, my progress is slow. I feel the need to constantly prove that I deserve a break at school. 

Even writing this article is an example of how I overwork myself. And don’t get me wrong. I love writing articles, but this isn’t due for a few days. I still have time to work on it. I’m not even close to missing the deadline, but I still feel the need to push myself and finish it right now. If anything is on my to-do list, then I question why I would even try to take a break. 

Even though I pride myself on pushing through procrastination, this can end up being toxic. In a world where “busy culture” is often over-glamorized by social media influencers, I think we easily forget that taking breaks is essential to being productive. If we don’t take time for ourselves, we give up all of our energy without gaining anything in return. 

Because of this, I have a complicated relationship with knowing when to take a break. I know that if I don’t stop and rest, I won’t be able to complete everything I need in a thorough and efficient manner. On the other hand, when I see everyone around me somehow balance a million things in their lives, especially at a place like Lawrence, I see myself as lazy and unworthy of any free time. 

While I love the Lawrence community, I think everyone, including myself, tends to only talk about how busy they are. Almost as if we live off the thrill of overbooking ourselves, I think we spend a little too much time competing over who is the busiest person and too little time taking care of ourselves. 

With students being in the middle of midterm exam season and midterm reading period, I offer you some advice. Don’t spend your energy around people who are only going to talk about how much work they have to do. While I see the importance of venting about our over-the-top list of things that need to get done this week, it can also make people feel like they’re not giving their all when in actuality that’s all they have been doing for the past six weeks.  

Plus, we have to remember that we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Not only is it time for midterms, but we’re experiencing a really traumatic and life-changing event, all at our own pace. I promise that you don’t need to be doing everything at once in order to take a break. Honestly, in my opinion, simply existing right now is a good enough reason to take a break. 

While I encourage you to weed out the people who will make you feel unproductive this reading period, I also hope you take time to check in on yourself and see if you’re doing the same thing. I know I need to stop and focus on just how much complaining and venting I have been doing to people in my life who are struggling just as much as I am.  

Make sure that you’re filling your weekend with people who give off lifting energy. In addition, make sure you’re sending some positive vibes in return. There is not enough of that going around campus right now. Above everything, though, remember to put yourself first. Seriously. I know doing well on your midterms might seem like the most important thing right now but making sure you’re safe and healthy is the most important thing. You are worthy of all good things in your life, and you deserve a break. Take one.