When I was a child, my siblings and I always looked forward to the first day of summer. I’m sure other kids did too, but probably not for the same reasons we did. Other kids looked forward to a day free from school, to sit home playing video games and watching TV, but we were weird kids who spent our school days holding our breath for the day we could head outside to draw on the driveway with chalk.
But we weren’t making just any drawings, we wanted to recreate the Solar-system as “to scale” as possible on the large black canvas. Sure, it didn’t seem very fun from the outside, but we were passionate about our work, spending hours kneeling on the ground even as the sun came out and heated the asphalt until you could have probably used it to fry an egg.
It was a cheesy hobby, it was weird and made sense to no one, but our mother always taught us to be proud of ourselves, and to respect our own interests even if other people told us it was weird.
To be honest, when I look back it doesn’t make sense even to me. I can’t remember what it was like to be so passionate about something so simple, even willing to risk burns, or dehydration, as the sun beat down on our heads and turned our brown skin browner, but I almost envy my younger self. These days when I sit in the sun, the smell of early summer makes me nostalgic, almost sad.
Whenever the weather is perfect, anxiety always comes to visit like an old friend. A day this perfect shouldn’t be wasted, I should be working. I try to push those thoughts out of my head and remember the importance of relaxation and self-care, but I miss the days when I was so carefree and could waste hours drawing planets on a driveway without worries tormenting me about the future.
Recently, I try to make an effort to take time away from my work and “waste time.” I set aside thoughts of the future and try to do something I enjoy. When that isn’t possible, I force myself to do nothing at all, pushing away concerns and trying to quiet my anxiety, I remind myself that learning to take a break will help my future just as much as working will. Both are necessary. Life is about balance.
As an adult, we are so worried about the future that relaxing seems impossible. There are people like me who can’t even stand the idea of a vacation, the thoughts fill us with anxiety, and worry, that if we don’t work now, we are somehow jeopardizing our future.
On days like this, I try to breathe, calming my obsessive-compulsive mind with simple reminders. All the most successful people in the world stress the importance of self-care, but it’s something I need to work on.
But I’ve learned a secret, one that works, even if it’s slowly. Every morning I write down my goals for the day and keep them somewhere I can see them easily. After every goal I achieve, I force myself to put my work to the side, pick something else up, go outside, read a book, it doesn’t matter, what’s important is that I “waste my time.”
Sometimes I just sit down and try to think about when I was younger. These days my memories are all seeming to fade away, but some still stand out to me as vivid as if they were yesterday. They are the days I wish I could go back to. The summer days I remember from when small, back when I would spend an hour, a morning, a day, doing what I loved, just wasting my time, and never regretting it.