Westchester County, NY
It’s been a week now since I came back from my trip to Sweden, and I already feel like I miss it. It went by way too quickly, partly because it was actually only a short amount of time (6 full days), but mostly because the week was absolutely packed and filled to the brim with seeing people, doing fun things, and just enjoying being home. (I will write a post about the trip soon, as well as one about my friends’ visit earlier in June!) But being able to spend the weekend in New York at my grandparents’ place definitely alleviated some of that back-to-work-after-vacation dread.
On Friday, after spending a few hours in the morning at work, I drove up to New York and stopped to have lunch with my boyfriend on the way. As always when I visit my grandparents’, the weekend was wonderful and spent relaxing, cooking and eating great food, and having a fun time with family and friends.
One of my absolute favorite things is going for a run or brisk walk around the lake in the morning, when the heat isn’t yet too overwhelming, and the community is just starting to wake up. It’s something I do very rarely as I usually only have time to work out in the afternoons after work, but starting the day off with some alone time and exercise really puts me in a balanced state of mind for the rest of the day. Maybe “balanced” is the wrong word, but more at peace? Grounded? Even listening to music or a podcast (love listening to Swedish podcasts, it makes me feel like I’m at home!) and getting some exercise makes me so relaxed for the rest of the day.
I’m starting to feel a little anxious about my research project for the summer. It’s baffling that it’s July already (where did the first third of summer go?!), and I know my to-do list is still heavy and filled with stuff that I really should get done before school starts again in September — even things that are unrelated to my research.
How did I think I would have so much time to work over the summer, when I now find myself struggling to find time to even feel fully relaxed or do the social/fun things I want to do? Shouldn’t there be enough time in a normal week to go to work, exercise, rest, be social, AND work on my academic projects? Or did I just entirely overestimate how much time I would have (time during which I feel enough energy to work, at least) over the summer, not taking into account the fact that I almost have a full time job? I’m pretty sure I tend to overestimate those kinds of things, to be fair.
I think I just need to sit down and make an actual plan for the remaining weeks of the summer, and most of all start making use of the time I have at home after work on weekdays. And I need to be honest with myself; no expectations, routines, or due dates that I know I won’t keep. Although coming home from work at about 5PM and doing nothing for the rest of the night besides watch TV shows isn’t really the key to productivity, that’s still an important part of relaxing, too. I think I probably need at least some of that to have enough energy come fall.
I worry that this is going to be what the rest of my life will look like if I do decide to have an academic career; always feeling like there’s work I could be (and SHOULD be) doing outside of my scheduled hours, and never feeling like anything is enough. After all, if your work is basically doing research and writing, it’s not something you can leave at the office door at the end of the day. It comes home with you. Particularly over the summer, when there’s hardly any structure at all and you’re constantly feeling like you could be writing, instead of doing whatever else you might be doing. How do you even begin to balance that?
As far as I can tell, most accomplished academics are still trying to figure that out. So maybe it’s ok if I haven’t yet, either.