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The Weird Thing About Rest

By Swan

Image is an illustration of a figure cowering beneath school books and notebooks. Text reads “lesson time”.

The end of the year came and I decided that I wouldn’t be returning to classes the following semester. This decision was a culmination of the pandemic and my own academic burn out.

That was the odd part: my job wasn’t the issue, nor was my degree—nor the pandemic, even. School itself was bothering me. It sat there like a wall that I was supposed to destroy with my forehead. I had been taught to admire people who broke through every wall with about a third of the privilege that I possessed, yet here I was staring at the mental wall that I never thought I’d face.

I thought about quitting in the middle of last semester. I stuck it out because I had already paid my tuition but it made me wonder why I trembled at the thought of not taking classes. Not getting closer to graduation haunted my dreams and I would wake up hoping that I would regain the will to actually get my bachelor’s.

Why was I scared of this break?

I’ve been in school as long as I can remember; there was never a moment that school wasn’t on the horizon for me.

Why was I putting off telling my parents that I was tired? Why was I scared of mentioning to my friends that I couldn’t do it? Why was I looking forward to getting more hours at my job?

These feelings brought me to ask my friends about their thoughts on the matter and the responses were divided. There were… those that felt it was better to power through it, and then there were those that felt it was important to take breaks for yourself. I sat in the middle and wondered why there was so much fear in my heart about the latter. When I asked to write this article, I got responses that mirrored what my small circle of friends had been saying.

I just wanna get it over with (and the idea of being out of school before I absolutely need to is terrifying) @er.del

What’s interesting about reading the comments on the post was that it was eerily similar to the debates I had been having in my mind. I did want school to be “over with”; for many that is the right solution and is important to keep up momentum.

Nope! I'm a huge nerd and I love school :D I like being busy and I think I'd be really bored taking a semester off @christinamarando2

Education can be fun for me, and it makes me happy to know that there are classmates who are not as laboured with the decision as I am. I knew I needed to find that spark of joy again before returning.

I also thought that maybe taking a semester off would make me too lax and I'd eventually take more semesters off and next thing I knew I spent a whole year off hahaha @angella.keush

I think this is what my parents fear most, but I wondered if I would enjoy my time off too much. I’ve heard you can rest too much but it’s always a tricky thing. It's a situation that I feel needs an adjustment once in a while and revolution on what needs to happen next.

I think after my Masters I will take time off before a PhD. I'm a nerd but I need to travel too! :) @tammramm

Circling back, I think it was that limitation that made me let go of this semester. I wanted to not be bound to the schedule that I had made and I wanted freedom to do other things while my mind reset.

I often take breathers at work, a five minute period when I simply try to focus my busy brain. I’m taking a breather from school because I felt lost and confused. I don’t regret my decision, nor do I feel like others should regret stepping away from being a student.

It’s been a month and a half now, approximately, since the semester began. The guilt has disappeared and I often lie in bed and not feel stressed. It’s a strange feeling that there is nothing perpetually hanging over my head. The first few weeks were difficult and strange; I would wake up early and feel an impending dread that would slowly evaporate as I remembered that I didn’t have classes that morning. I didn’t have classes that week. I didn’t have homework. It shouldn’t feel weird to feel this, my days were suddenly empty and I sat in my bed not knowing what to do. I sat on the floor and played with my cat, I ate food and played video games. I approached my writing that had been a dead end and found it was a clear path. I felt creative again and I felt better with each passing day.

For me, this was the answer to the stress that had been hiding away. I’m glad I did this.


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