After having turned in my final assignments and that pizza party celebration with two of the best friends I’ll ever make, I allowed myself a day entirely to myself.
That might sound strange to some – arguably what assignments give you is too much alone time. I’ve had to turn down countless family gatherings and cut short meet-ups with friends because of the rolling word count I could see hovering above all of their heads. The Samsung Health app is concerned because I’ve barely moved from my bed in months. Even my turtle has likely forgotten what I even look like, I’ve been so inattentive.
But today felt like seeing myself for the first time in ages too. I have been alone in this room for hours on end, reading papers, writing essays, cutting words, referencing, but I haven’t allowed myself any time to reflect, to check in with how I was, what I wanted. Self-reflection was dangerous. Think too long about why you chose this dissertation in the first place and become too racked with self-doubt to continue. Actually try to wrap your head around the concepts you’re writing about (I’m looking at you, postmodernism) and slip into an existential crisis that takes a massive chunk out of your writing time. It’s not worth the risk.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been taking care of myself. In fact, I’ve probably been kinder to Future Me than ever before, actually planning work ahead of time, obtaining snacks to use as rewards, drinking enough water, sleeping at a reasonable(ish) time. I’m pretty proud of how I got through the last stretch, actually. I even finished everything a day early, which – as anyone who knows me will tell you – is unprecedented. But it was still all with those deadlines in mind. I was tending to myself in the same way that you’d maintain a piece of machinery you needed in order to keep a production line going. It wasn’t for love of the machine, but the necessity of the product.
That’s a flawed metaphor. I’m not a machine. I napped for three hours straight after hand-in, woke up for a meal and then went back to sleep for another eight hours, for God’s sake.
The point is, that today was all about letting myself re-centre. For a little while, at least, I can let myself dictate what I want to do, how I want to spend my time. It’s been a long old while since I’ve felt that way, and when it dissipates, it’ll probably be gone for another long while again. So right now I’m just trying to take it all in. Breathe. Appreciate this moment.
I did it.
I can rest.