Memorial Day Weekend 2021. I just started a new job. Outside of some family emergencies, I haven’t taken any vacation days. This isn’t that uncommon for me. After I started doing mission trips for church, I needed to bank my vacation days to make sure that I had 40 hours to take off for the Mission Trip. And to take days off for Christmas, and in some cases, the fourth of July as well. This year, after hearing so many of my co-workers talking about taking a 4-day weekend, I decided to splurge and take the Friday off, too.
I’ve always had a toxic relationship with days off. Since High School, I’ve had a bad habit of staying up way too late playing games or watching TV shows. I thought having to work 9-5’s would make it get better, but it seemed to just get worse. I still stay up until the early hours on weekdays. Weekends are where I caught up on sleep. I knew I needed to spend weekends recovering, yet I always made plans for my weekends. And this Memorial Day weekend was no different.
I made great plans for the weekend and wrote them on my dry erase board.
At the top of the list, I planned to get some cleaning done.
On my board game table, I have two games sitting out; Power Rangers Heroes of the Grid, and Stardew Valley. Not because I plan to play them anytime soon, but rather because both games need to be re-organized. That has been on my to-do list for about two weeks now. On top of that, I went through my bookshelves and pulled out magazines so that they were all in one place—they were still sitting on that table waiting for a home. My gym clothes laid sprawled on the couch, as well as my climbing gear. And my deck builders have needed to be put away for months.
Chores weren’t the only things I’d spend my 4-day weekend on. There were fun things as well.
Last year, I decided to watch the Netflix Original Selena. I fell in love with the show so much, I got my mom into the show too. The second season came out but I’ve only seen the first 2 episodes. This would be the weekend I would finish that show, and maybe make a dent in some of the other shows that I compulsively need to finish. I had shows I wanted to watch and games I wanted to play. I bought 7 Days To Die and set an unrealistic goal to also try out Resident Evil 4, a game that has been on my list to play since it came out on Gamecube.
There were other goals that I vaguely thought about. After recently playing the World War Z game, I wanted to re-watch the movie. There were other movies that have been on my list for a long time that I never made time for. Maybe I had time to watch them now? I wanted to play consoles again and try them out. I wanted to start on a new project (actually an old project) of converting some of the physical stuff into digital media.
I thought I could use the weekend to get all these things done.
Yet, out of everything, I did one.
I played 7 Days to Die.
Here is how my four-day weekend started. I woke up at 13:15 on Friday. I remembered that I had to meet with my Physical Therapist at 13:30. It is a ten-minute drive. I panic. Friday night was date night, which we talked about for two weeks (I procrastinated on dinner reservations, but we made it work.)
The rest of the weekend was spent playing games and seeing the sunrise from the opposite side of sleeping.
I woke up Monday, realizing I hadn’t cleaned anything. And I would potentially have guests over, if not this weekend, then the weekend after. So, naturally, I got on Discord and talked to a buddy.
“I sorta feel like I wasted my 3-day weekend tbh,” they said.
I replied, “I pretty much wasted my 4-day weekend, haha”.
We wasted the weekend. And maybe it’s not that bad of a thing.
Since High School, I have this fear of wasting time. I remember long talks with my dad where he would break down how I was wasting time playing video games or watching YouTube videos and how precious time was and all of that. He didn’t want me to NOT play video games. His end goal, rather, was to get me to study a little bit to prepare for my future. To realize that I’m wasting small amounts of time here and there, and if I focus, then I am good to go.
This backfired. Tremendously.
I started to get panic attacks. I would lie awake at night, in a frenzy, because I’m burning life hours. I would start staying up later so that I could get my fun out and just cut back on sleep. Life was miserable.
Even now, I’m constantly tired, and full of anxiety. I can’t deal with change, because change is a reminder that time is moving onward. My dad will complain about being old, and it twists my insides. I went camping once with Karianne, and we were talking about a blog post she had (the one about 90s shows), and I started crying. Bawling my eyes out, because I remembered memories that I would never be able to re-live. Working with my sister the month her cubemate was out so I’d work in the cube with her. Or as a kid, staying up late with my dad doing arts and crafts. Or going to my aunt’s house and watching local TV because she didn’t have cable. All of that just came flooding back, and I felt that same sense of panic of “What am I doing? I’m wasting time.” It was too much to handle, and I just cried.
I’m not the pinnacle of time optimization that my dad wanted me to be. In fact, I might be the opposite. I don’t like spending time on things I don’t enjoy doing. Cleaning, working out, taking care of myself, even cooking, all fall to the wayside because I want to enjoy things while I can. Every moment is a moment that I won’t have back. I’m moving towards being a father (eventually), taking more responsibilities at work (potentially), and getting more involved in church (likely).
Is it okay I’m wasting time playing video games? Not exactly. It’s true. I need to start growing up. We all do. I once told a friend I didn’t have time to play music. He replied that if we want to do something, we don’t FIND time, we MAKE time.
But we all need a break.
We all work hard. As much as we don’t try, we take our jobs home with us. Whether it’s the pure anxiety of how much work we still have to do, or a grumpy boss that affects our personality, we take all of that home with us. Then we set unrealistic standards.
Originally, I wanted to write to you about how we shouldn’t feel bad about having fun in different ways than we planned. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that people need these long weekends to mentally reset. I did get some cleaning done. I did write a more succinct to-do list. But I also spent 12 hours on one game and woke up past noon every day.
Life is already stressful. You probably don’t hear this enough. You DO have time to play that game. You DO have time to watch that movie. Maybe your days of pulling the all-nighter to beat Halo on the hardest difficulty in one sitting is behind you, but that doesn’t mean fun should be.
“I’ve wasted my weekend.” I hear that uttered so often, with people feeling guilty for taking any time for themselves.
“I don’t have time for hobbies anymore,” someone said at a work meeting when we shared what our hobbies were.
We fill our time with work and chores, and when we have a long weekend, we feel obligated to do something special. Something important. Something big.
We forget that sometimes it’s nice to relax. To turn our brains off for 6 hours and prepare for the zombie horde. Why do we feel like a weekend was wasted when we look back at it and enjoy what we did? Why do we feel obligated to only have a certain amount of fun?
There is a balance, of course, but we so often stress the other side of it. Long weekends are meant to be enjoyed. Wasted weekends are just days you spent refreshing yourself. And that’s ok.
Jay is an avid board-game collector, gamer, and musician. Drums, guitar, piano, and ukulele are just a few of the instruments he plays. He loves to be outdoors and likes to rock climb, listen to music, and test out his cooking skills on a grill. His dream vacation would be a road trip with someone special.
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