Vacation Impostor Syndrome
My husband and I recently were invited to a weekend-long Dungeons & Dragons event. When I told him about the invitation, my husband said “Is that the long weekend?” and I had no idea. I barely keep track of holidays (except Canada Day, Halloween, and Christmas) and don’t bother to track long weekends at all. In my line of work - meeting with clients when most convenient - those dates rarely impact me. Partially because I don’t have to commute to work, I’m happy to work nearly every day of the year. One of the main reasons for this is that often, people who work jobs that are impacted by holidays will be available during those times. And of course I’m going to keep on writing a blog post even on a bank holiday.
And this has worked well for me and my clients. Except for one detail: I don’t have those designated times for rest and vacation. When every week and weekend is open season for all kinds of work I do, then the periods of obvious rest become, well, nonexistent.
I hear a tiny voice in the back of my head that tells me because I can work all the time that means I really ought to work all the time. So even when I carve out some time for myself, it will often be on a week day, because some clients need the weekend. And actively relaxing when I know many millions around this globe are beavering away at their jobs causes me to begin to slide toward imposter syndrome.
I’ve written many times on this blog about the topic and importance of self care. I know how vital it is. I even realized recently that if my body and brain don’t receive a certain quota of what I feel to be high quality self care, I will basically eat until the quota is filled. And this is quite the opposite of self care, especially because the snack-seeking brain is unlikely to look for broccoli.
And yet, here I am, feeling like a complete fraud when I take my day off on a Friday.
There are plenty of people who work jobs with far stricter hours, and who still happen to have Fridays free. Maybe it’s because one of my first jobs was in pizza, and Friday and Saturday are big business in the pizza industry.
Another reason is another tiny voice in my head tells me, if I am going to take time for non-work on a Friday, that it should be to party. Because that’s what people do, right? It doesn’t matter that I really dislike parties and always have. It doesn’t matter that on my days off one of the chief things I need is alone time to recharge my introvert batteries. Nope, all those strange notions in my head care about is what “most people” do.
So how can we, all of us who live alternative lives, fight back against these nagging little voices?
I like to think of people I admire and what they would say if they knew about this internal struggle.
Misha Collins, a human rights activist, philanthropic individual, small-time actor, and all-around weirdo has been quoted as saying he wants “normal to be an insult” and “weird” the complimentary word. I agree with him. So given that, in the context of the 9-5 job, a day off every Friday is weird, someone I think is pretty great would approve. This thought makes me feel better.
I also remind myself that relaxation simply must happen some time. It doesn’t make sense for me to take it on weekends, so I take it on a weekday. It’s just luck of the draw that it happens to be like that. Random chance isn’t something I need to beat myself up about.
Even this calming self talk isn’t enough to quieten the nagging voices sometimes. So my third method of dealing with them is to remind myself that I often sacrifice that day off in the name of helping clients. If someone would really benefit from and/or has no other time for a session than on a Friday, I gladly schedule it. So I don’t actually get a day off every week. It’s more like 2-3 weeks a month.
This will probably be a long-term struggle for me, especially since my day off used to be Wednesday until a couple clients needed that day. So my fourth and final method of fending off the shame is to simply hope that with repetition I will grow used to the way things are. I don’t beat myself up about doing errands for most of a day every Tuesday, partially because I’ve been doing it for over 5 years.
The main point is to never give up. I will never stop countering these negative thoughts and I will never lay down and allow them to gobble up the time I know I need for myself. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, but I’ll get up and try again tomorrow.
What important things do you have negative self-talk about?