A Small Vacation

I have a difficult time actually taking vacations. I’ve written before about my struggles, mostly in terms of financial cost, but I also struggle with taking a break from a mental and personal perspective, too. One of my oldest and least-healthy coping mechanism has always been “keep busy.” Which isn’t necessarily unhealthy on it’s own, but if you’re going into this with the thought of “gotta stay too busy to be sad,” then you’ve strayed into an unhealthy mindset and mechanism. The other side of this, which makes this into a problem I actively struggle with, is the fact that I also just like to keep busy. I like having things to do.

On the healthy side of things, keeping busy and engaged is a good way to pursue self-fulfillment. There’s a great The Oatmeal comic about how pursing happiness itself can personally toxic and actually antithetical to feeling happiness or joy. It excellently conveys my feelings on the matter. I don’t seek to be happy or feel joy as the goal of my day-to-day activities, I seek to feel fulfilled or engaged. Having projects, things to do, stuff to keep my mind spinning is my primary method for achieving that. Finishing a project is great, of course, but sometimes it is enough to simply have a project.

I’ll be the first to admit that my desire to stay busy rather than to finish individual projects contributes to how rarely I actually finish a book project, and that it is the first step down the slippery slope towards staying busy as a means of avoiding difficult emotions or harsh thoughts. Even being aware of this propensity, this inclination, is not always enough to save me from it. Even now, after years of therapy and a lot of active work towards finding ways to avoid letting my busyness become a toxic coping mechanism, I still slip up. Which is why I’m very careful about taking vacations.

I probably spend too much time doing it, because what anxious person doesn’t love a justified overthinking session, but I always carefully interrogate my reasons for taking a vacation if I feel like I’m doing it to work on a project. Part of that falls into normal introspection, as I check on my own mental health and what thoughts or feelings might be trying to avoid the light of day, but most of it requires careful, specific consideration since I don’t want to spend my vacation time working on a project only to still feel exhausted and not have gained anything by the time I’ve returned to work. If my motivations are good, and I’m not trying to avoid anything, I usually feel refreshed when my vacation is over.

All of which is to say that I’ll be missing a few days here since I’m taking a vacation to reorganize my apartment, clean everything top-to-bottom, and then settle back into it in a way that makes it feel more “homey.” I’ve made sure I’m doing this for the right reasons and I definitely need to make my apartment feel more like a home than it currently does, so I hope you all have a good week while I maybe miss a few days because my computer is unplugged and I’m too tired to write another post out on my phone.

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