The devil will find work for idle hands to do

Well, not today, but almost. I’ve been feeling…not so much exhausted, exactly, lately, but burned out a little bit. And not burned out by any one thing particularly, just the combination of everything: school (papers, projects, studying for tests, all of which I love, but it’s a lot), working, doing my practicum interviews, tracking people down for various things, working on the admissions committee at school. All things I love individually, but taken together, are wearing me down a little bit. So I decided that the one thing I can get out of is work, which I haven’t been to in a week (since I’m on-call, I can just choose not to pick up any shifts if I want to), and I won’t go to next week either, since it’s spring break and my parents will be here for 4 days.

So, aside from a quick test I had to go take at 5 today, I had the whole day off. I had a slow breakfast, watched a great movie, read some, took a leisurely stroll to the farmer’s market where I didn’t buy anything because it’s crummy this time of year, stared out the window a lot, cleaned the bathroom, thought about doing some homework but didn’t, made a nice lunch, set some plants on the table outside to get some sun, etc. etc.

It then occurred to me that one day of doing nothing is enough to get me past feeling burned out. Back when I fancied myself a filmmaker, any time I took to relax and “do nothing” made me feel terribly guilty. Since I had to work a full-time job that ate away my soul in order to make films, I figured I had better use all of my “free time” very wisely. Which I rarely did. Which meant I was in a constant state of anxiety, frustration, and self-induced guilt about not creating, or writing, or…doing something productive (probably useless, ultimately, but something with which I could assuage my feelings of guilt).

One thing that’s pretty great about being in school full-time, and/or having a job that is your life’s work and that you really care about, is that when you do have free time, it doesn’t feel guilty. Or at least it’s not supposed to. I have no pressing assignments due (in fact, I turned in 2 early this week; they’re neither one due for another 2 weeks), I don’t really need money, so I don’t have to work, and spring break is next week. Yet, I couldn’t just enjoy my free time today. Perhaps it’s the lingering anxiety of feeling useless (or, more charitably, wasting time), even though my plate is actually quite full. Perhaps it’s just my inability to be alone in a house all day without going stir-crazy. Maybe it’s the weather. Today felt like spring, and I felt like I should have been outside all day.

I have personal projects I could have worked on, or more school assignments I could have worked on, but I just chose not to. Today was a “day off.” But I’m pretty sure I won’t really need another one for awhile. Because even though I’m feeling burned out, I love what I do, and I’m ready to get back.

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