After reading your last column I started thinking about the three-week break I have before starting fall Semester. I started wondering what I would do during this free time and my mind went wild! Trips are always fun to take, and so are evenings out with friends. I also love to swim and enjoy eating out. I like reading fiction novels and spending time alone. How am I ever to decide? My family wants to spend time with me, there has been a suggestion of camping in the mountains, my friends want me too, and all I can think about is what I want to do alone when I no longer have to pack my books around. Am I selfish? Should I spend the time with my family or friends? Do you think it’s selfish of me to want to be alone?
Anxious for free time
Perhaps this isn’t really an all or nothing deal. Look at it this way — your friends and family have been waiting awhile to get you back. Now that they see a light at the end of the tunnel they want you all to themselves. That’s natural. I also understand your need to relax and enjoy just “being” for a while.
I remember my breaks between semesters were full of things I had put aside for a few months-my personal writing and reading, just sitting somewhere without doing anything, family outings, friend visits…the list went on and on. I was usually happiest when I wasn’t cramming a thousand things into one day just so I could make up for lost time, however. I had more fun when I continued to balance my life with work, family, friends and personal time. I felt the greatest joy when I spent the morning with my mother shopping, for example, and the afternoon reading a good book instead of devoting the entire day to one activity.
In the end it was all about balance. I don’t think you should eliminate one category of fun over another. After all, you have three weeks. Camping is actually a good, relaxing outing where you can participate in visiting with family members as well as getting that free time to yourself.
I remember one camping trip I took with family a few years ago. I had the need to be with them and to enjoy my family’s company, but I also wanted some time to myself. I got up early one morning and found a quiet area near camp to be alone. After watching the sunrise I read a good book and wrote for a while.
When it comes to taking a well-needed trip, I have found that doing things on my own time is the best option. If you do anything that demands you be somewhere at a particular time, rethink your direction. Tours and their infamous buses can eliminate stress in the driving itself, but you are locked in to their time schedule and may feel rushed getting back to the bus at a particular time. Whenever you can, rent a car or take your own. Plan your day with loads of breaks and only a couple of events, versus a full day of running from one activity to another.
I don’t think you should feel selfish for wanting some time to yourself; but I also think you’ll be doing yourself a world of good if you open up some time for friends and family. Enjoy your time without the extra load of textbooks, but don’t cram your days with so much that you lose yourself. Get the rest you need, find time for yourself, and have some fun with those you love most.