Taking the Time

I’ve been off work for the past week and half. It’s the first holiday in a long time where I don’t have any pressure to get something done. This past summer I started preparing to compete for a promotion. I knew that I’d have some fierce competition, so spent part of our week at a rental cottage studying. The competition could have launched in early September but didn’t end up getting into full swing until mid-November, so I basically spent August to December studying for an exam and preparing for an interview, and feeling like I should be studying or preparing whenever I wasn’t doing so. My interview ended up being just before Christmas, and even though I don’t know if I got the job, I was incredibly thankful that they wrapped up the interviews before the holidays. Then with Christmas falling on the first Sunday of the school holidays and being over so early, I found myself with more than a solid week of time off in which nothing had to get done. In the absence of having a full to-do list, it’s been a weird roller coaster of emotions.

At first there was euphoria. I finished what I set out to do – I put everything I had into studying and preparing for the interview, and now the final decision was out of my hands. It was a relief to have it over with. I bounced between being sure I got the job (I certainly felt like the interview went well, but you never know) and despairing that getting it would be too good to be true. I also had the usual (I hope it’s usual!) mixed feelings about family and holidays – I didn’t enjoy my time with the in-laws, felt guilty about it, wondered if I should be trying harder and if we should spend more time with them, told myself that it was perfectly normal and ok not to have enjoyed it, tried not to feel guilty but felt guilty anyhow… I also felt guilt about not enjoying my kids enough and about not giving them a great Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of gifts under the tree and we’re very lucky to have everything we need and much more. But I was so focussed on preparing for the competition that I didn’t really get into Christmas this year. We put the tree up later than we usually do, and we didn’t get the outdoor lights up at all. We didn’t spend a lot of time with family, we didn’t have much planned for the school break, and I always feel guilty when the kids spend hours watching tv or playing video games – which they totally did. I also felt a little weepy at times, which I attribute to depressurization after the intense competition prep and the fact that I’ve basically been working three jobs for the past 5 months – my old job, an acting position I’m currently in, and preparing for the competition.

One of the takeaways for me is that I have to slow down. I don’t want to make getting my to-do list done more important that spending time with my kids. I promised hubby that this was the last competition I worked so hard for – if I decide to try for another promotion in the future, I’ll do a bit of prep but not to this degree. It will be hard for me, because when I put my mind to something I usually go all out. But I need to shift what it is I put my mind to – my career is important to me, but it can’t be at the expense of my family. Especially not right now, when my kids are old enough to be quite entertaining and fun to be around but still young enough to want to spend time with me!

I don’t really do resolutions anymore, but I do want to slow down this year. I’ve worked hard, and regardless of whether or not I get this promotion, I’ve earned the right to take it easy.


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