About three weeks ago, I started thinking about what I really wanted to achieve and the answer that came back from my head shocked me a little: some time out, before it’s too late to take some.
I think I’ve probably mentioned before (a few times) that at the moment I’m doing my day job and I’m studying for the CIPR Diploma in Public Relations. It’s a good thing, absolutely, but it’s also something I always knew would stretch my abilities – and not just my intelligence, but my time management skills too.
Juggling a full time job that’s a 2 hour commute away, life, and education is hard work.
It’s fantastic to be learning things again, even if sometimes they seem far away from the reality of doing the job, and it’s woken up parts of my brain that I’ve missed quite a bit. Not least, the bit that got me doing it in the first place: say yes, and you’ll soon find a way to make it work.
And it’s true: you will. If you want something enough, you’ll make sure you’ve got time for it, and if you don’t – well, there’s nothing like a looming exam deadline to drive you to actually do something.
I’m not going to lie – it doesn’t always work. There have been weeks where I’ve lived out of the washing basket rather than a drawer (clean, I will add), and I’ve had to skip going to things that I’d much rather have done instead. Equally, there was a non-marked summer project that I was supposed to complete, and although it was a perfectly interesting task I just couldn’t seem to find the energy.
But I think what is as equally important as the drive needed to do the stuff you really want is recognising when it’s time to take a break: and that time for me, feels near.
I maintain that work-life balance is a complete myth, peddled in much the same way as the people who have perfect lives portrayed in detail on Instagram.
By the time I’ve completed the course in April (I will do it!), I’ll have been doing ‘full time plus’ (plus either education or excessive commutes) for more than 6 years and I’m yet to discover where the balance is.
Either work is in order, or life is. I can’t seem to get both at the same time, and the course has just thrown an extra seat onto the see-saw that never worked anyway.
So for the last month or so I’ve been plotting a question: can I take a month off?
A month of letting my body clock be my body clock sounds wonderful. A month where I can pop into Waterstone’s and not have a feeling of dread at adding another book that I’ll never probably read to the shelf. Perhaps I could start a podcast, or volunteer?
The opportunities are endless, but I’ve been plotting it so hard that now I’ve been told I can do it, I’ve suddenly realised I’d not put any thought into how I might fill it.
And that’s quite scary. And that’s quite exciting. I said I’ve been rediscovering bits of myself lately, and that’s another bit I’d not had for a while: jumping into fear.
So that’s my side-project for now: fill a month full of stuff I love, because I might never be able to do this again, or face the consequences of being bored, alone and in front of Friends on Comedy Central for 4 weeks. And that’s terrifying.
What would you do if you had a month off?