“The hardest thing is to live richly in the present without letting it be tainted out of fear for the future or regret for the past.”
― Sylvia Plath
After a gruelling few months at work, exacerbated by my failure to book in adequate holiday throughout the year (though with the workload and lack of resources it wouldn’t have mattered); I finally got two weeks off and decided to spend it in Canada where my sister lives. I awaited my time off with excitement and bated breath, tumbling between happiness and nervousness about my trip. One on hand the thought of my forthcoming holiday was the only thing keeping me going, as I had completely lost all will to exist. On the other hand, the thought of travelling was nerve-racking. Thanks to COVID, travelling is subject to even more restrictions and I was thoroughly stressed out. I did all my research to understand all the documents needed and made sure to get all of them. Still I could not shake the nervousness. I prepared a list of things I needed to do before my trip- buy a suitcase, change some money into CAD, etc, and I ticked them off one by one. Still I could not shake the nervousness.
My friend who travelled to Canada a month prior told me of the long lines and how it took her hours to go through all the checks and how she just barely made her flight even though she was at the airport four hours early. This stressed me out even more and I planned to get to the airport 5 hours before, just in case. My flight was scheduled for 2pm so I decided to take the 8am coach to arrive at the airport at 9am. I woke up at 5am to ensure I had everything in order and aimed to leave the house by 7:30am. However by the time I had maneuvered my luggage down the stairs, it was already 7.45 and I started to panic as I desperately searched all the ride sharing apps for a driver. I was praying and panicking at the thought of missing my 8am coach which would then throw all my plans into disarray and ruin my life! (okay not quite that crazy but I was stressed). I finally managed to get a driver that was 3 minutes away and waited in agony as he took his time. Eventually he arrived with five minutes to spare and we began the mad dash to the coach station. We pulled in at exactly 8am, just in time to watch the coach pull away. I couldn’t help myself and I yelled out an expletive (and apologised to the driver). Thanks to COVID the coaches are no longer every twenty minutes but every hour and I was so distressed. Now I was going to get to the airport at 10ish which could possibly be too late ohmagawsh! I was tired as I had only slept for a few hours; I had two suitcases to check in and one carry on luggage but still felt that I didn’t pack enough and started worrying about that; I only had one jacket and two rings-ohmagawsh. Long story short, the coach left at 9am, I got to my terminal at 10:30, and by 10:45 I had completed all of the checks and was on my way to my gate. I was stunned. I have never been through the airport checks that quickly. Never.
I had hours to kill and was exhausted. I sat in the airport looking at myself, and wondering what all the worrying was for. Upon knowing that there was a real possibility of me missing the 8am coach, why did I not just chill and aim for the 9am? Why did I need to wake up at 5am? Why did I stress myself out so much? What is wrong with me? I cannot even pretend that I will learn from this because this happens all the time and I never learn.
I finally made it to Canada and the arrival checks were are bit longer due to the lines, but even that was nothing serious. Now I had to find something new to stress over and that was work. I had a lot of work which I was planning to wrap up before my trip but of course as usual I had placed unrealistic expectations on myself. I therefore decided to do as much as I could early in the morning of my first day of holiday. Of course my laptop battery died as I was working and I discovered that the pack of three travel adaptors I bought were for Australia, US, and Europe but none for Canada. Hello stress! I started to stress out so much it ruined my mood and I had to go lay down. I spent the next two days searching the local stores for an adaptor before finally ordering an expensive universal one on Amazon scheduled to arrive the next day. Except it didn’t. More stress! I kept worrying about not completing the work and possibly holding up the team. I had also been working on a document when my battery died so I worried all my work would be lost and I would have to start over. Eventually the adaptor arrived, much to my relief. The relief was short lived when I realised there was no “Canada” option. Omgomgomg what to do? After five seconds of flash hot panic, I tried the US option and it worked. Now wait a minute. I already had a US adaptor…..surely….it couldn’t be. I went and got the US adaptor that I brought with me and voila it worked. I could not believe myself. I had been stressing out for days, walked around to different stores, spent a lot of money on something I already had? I felt so foolish but I was too tired to really be mad at myself.
I eventually got around to updating the work and no one cared. I checked again today and the manager has not even looked at it. Why did I convince myself that if I didn’t run myself ragged trying to complete all the work, the world would fall apart? One of the best things one of my managers said to me was along the lines of “The work will never finish” meaning there will always be something to do so relax when you can.
Even on holiday it is difficult to fully turn off. I keep worrying that there’s something I should be doing and then I worry my holiday will be over and I will not have rested enough. So I try to relax-worry I should be doing something productive; I try to do something “productive”-worry I should be resting. By productive I don’t even mean something related to work, but really just anything; it could be researching new career opportunities, planning my life, doing some creative writing and so on.
Now I’m stressing out slightly about a domestic flight I have to take within Canada, and also booking a COVID test for my return to the UK. Oh I’m also not looking forward to the end of my holiday and having to return to work. I will try to apply lessons from my experiences and take things easy. Stress and worry are so futile, but I cannot help it. Nothing is really that big of a deal and I need to chill out.
I think I need a lifestyle and career change. I could be one of those people who transitioned from the corporate world into a creative space and have never been happier. One thing is for sure; this constant worry is not sustainable and I need to figure it out.
Oh to be carefree and wild.