On “rest”

This pandemic has changed my perspective on a lot of things.

I wrote previously about how this pandemic, along with a series of unfortunate events (likely all triggered by the pandemic), forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with work.

Six months post-resignation though, and I’m now realising that it fundamentally altered my perception of rest too.

I was listening to a podcast episode this morning titled The Roots of Overbooking from The Writer’s Co-op. In it, hosts Jenni and Wudan were discussing how they structure their freelance writing business to accommodate for rest, time off, etc. They were describing how, earlier in their careers, rest was not a priority.

I think many people can relate to that. Especially young professionals that are trying to carve a space out for themselves in whatever field they’re in.

I know my relationship with rest has never been a good one. During my tenure as Content Manager for Loop TT, rest was just that thing I did because I was forced to. I would work, work, work, work, work, work, work, then take two weeks off, usually flying halfway around the world because it was the only way I could not end up working through my vacation, then come back home and start again.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed my vacations, but they only served to punctuate that thing that was way more important to me – work.

I should mention as well that I didn’t usually take particularly restful vacations. I didn’t often travel to relax and my trips were always filled to the brim with activities, many of which took a serious toll on my body. I wrote about that here.

I rested when doctors told me to. I rested when I felt like I’d ground my body down to dust. I rarely did it intentionally, and I usually could not wait for my vacations to be over so I could go back to work.

It seemed fine enough when I was in it, but now, in retrospect, I’m not so sure.

Since leaving Loop I’ve had a lot more time to myself.

I finish work at 3pm, commute home for about an hour, and have the rest of the evening to pretty much do whatever my heart desires.

I don’t take work home with me, I rarely check my emails after I clock out (if my team needs me they know how to reach me), and I usually spend my time reading, watching TV or playing a videogame.

It was okay for a while but now I’m getting that itch…the itch to do more. The itch to start spending the extra time I have more ‘productively’.

I’m working on something behind the scenes that I intend to unveil soon, but even as I plan, I’m finding myself factoring rest more and more into the structure of it.

I’m accounting for the number of hours I want to spend doing this, and how many hours I want for myself.

Honestly, part of me feels bad about it – why should I be so preoccupied with rest when I am essentially starting something new that I need to grow from scratch?

Shouldn’t I want to hustle? And clock long hours? And give it everything I have so I make sure it works? Shouldn’t I be willing to sacrifice that free time for this thing I’ve decided I want to do?

For so long I’ve looked at rest as antithetical to work. Oil and water.

What if – I find myself questioning now – they are not? What if they need each other? What if rest needs work to feel meaningful and valuable and work needs rest to be a better version of itself?

What if I considered how having better boundaries for myself contributed to me being more productive and creative?

As you can probably tell, there is still a lot of work in progress. I’m still unlearning, chipping away at belief systems I don’t think serve me anymore.

But this was on my mind and I’ve come to realise that if it’s on my mind then it’s probably on other peoples’ minds as well, so why not put it out there and see what comes back?

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