Take a break

My friend Lasha has been telling me for weeks that I need to slow down.

“You’re doing way too much,” she told me over burritos two Saturdays ago. She’d managed to drag me out of my apartment for my first social activity in weeks. I’ve been filling in for some vacant slots at the newspaper, so I’ve been working most days since reading week.

Admittedly, I was exhausted. But I did think her concerns were overblown. It’s not like I was building airplanes or performing brain surgery. I could deal with it for a few more weeks, I said.

Still, I couldn’t deny that those three hours in the taqueria were a bright spot I didn’t realize I needed. I love my job and my coworkers. But sitting in the corner, sipping our respective Jarritos and margarita while the sun went down, goofily chatting about nonsense, I thought, “I really missed this.”

I thought that respite was all the recharge my batteries needed to make it to the end of the academic year. But then, this past Sunday, I got sick. Specifically, conjunctivitis. Pink eye, if you’re nasty (I am).

It’s an ailment I haven’t had since I was a little kid. Maybe my immune system was weakened from overwork, maybe I was just overdue for some seasonal bug. On Monday, as I tried to force my bleary, leaking eyes open to write an article, I gave in. Screens weren’t an option. I needed a sick day.

Again, afterwards, I felt rejuvenated. I normally hate taking a sick day. But with a sleeping mask over my eyes, I couldn’t help thinking, “I need this.”

I know it’s easy to get into cycles of overwork, overstudying, neglecting yourself. Sometimes it’s because you love what you’re doing. But listen to the Lasha in your life. Take a break.

Published in Volume 78, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 28, 2024)

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