I have a complicated relationship with the concept of “vacation.” I never went on many as a kid, and I adopted an overly hard-working lifestyle (read: workaholism) from my parents. Before I even started going to school, my days were filled with puzzles and games. I became addicted to this constant mental stimulation.
No friends, foes, or family was prepared for the machine I’d become once I discovered “extracurricular activites” in middle school. As an antisocial kid, it was a way for me to make friends and figure out what I was good at. Doing things like serving as Math Club President kept me busy and engaged, more than schoolwork ever did.
I couldn’t say “no” to any opportunity. Throughout my entire schooling life, I took on more jobs and volunteer work. Finally some higher power decided to send me a message in 2014 and broke my ankle. I was forced to stay home. No more continuing education classes. No more Toastmasters. Never in my life had I felt so bored out of my mind. It’s like my drug was taken away.
I guess that’s why vacations never appealed to me. The idea of laying on a beach for six hours stresses me out. When I do skip town, I prefer taking a “workation.” I know… cue the eye rolls and scoffs. But for me, it’s purely about getting away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco and not being stuck in the same routine.
Because I work 100% remotely, it’s much harder to escape work. It’s so easily accessible on my phone and computer. And if I wanted to take a break, I could do laundry or the dishes instead. But don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent YEARS perfecting some semblance of self-control when working from home. For me, I enjoy what I do, so it never feels like work. I look forward to solving people and resource challenges.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy relaxing at ALL. Everyone physiologically needs to chill out every so often, or their brain would explode. (I’m sure that’s the technical term.) I just prefer smaller, shorter doses of relaxation. For that, I’m often judged. This is also why I don’t go on vacation with many people.
There’s really only one person who understands and mirrors my lifestyle: my friend Nina. The first and most recent time we went on “workation” was to San Diego. We’d roll out of bed, head to a coffeeshop to answer some emails, then spend the rest of the day getting manipedis and cocktails. It was a dream.
Even though we worked, we still returned home feeling relaxed. Our colleagues knew we were on vacation and didn’t expect us to answer emails, but because we did, we weren’t bombarded with a mountain of questions and long to-do lists. That tends to undo all the destressing we just did.
On the other hand, when I’m on vacation with my fiancé, I’ll only do work if I wake up first. Then we explore the sights together, uninhibited. Actually one of the reasons I love him is how hard he works AND relaxes. He makes me want to travel the world more. (Fun Fact: I’ve never been to Europe. We’re hoping to go for our honeymoon.)
Perhaps the moral of the story is to find someone that matches your style of vacation and stay true to your needs. Whether completely disconnecting in the woods for a week or doing a “staycation” over the weekend, our minds and bodies have different reset timers. There’s no one-size-fits-all method of relaxing, so I hope you discover the one that works for you… and don’t judge what others choose to do.