In Defense of Doing Nothing
As AROUSE’s resident expert on life post-graduation, let me assure you that Spring Break isn’t just a convenient time for a vacation, it is borderline miraculous. Having a week built in to your schedule to do nothing except think about anything other than school (a.k.a. your profession while in school) is a blessing that should not be under-appreciated. After graduation, between President’s Day and Memorial Day, there is not one single day off, no governmentally-mandated or generally accepted respite from the daily grind. (And that’s assuming you get President’s Day off, which not every one is lucky enough to get.) That’s a whole 98 days (more than a quarter of the year!) this year.
This is truly a shame, considering that (in Ohio at least) February, March, and April are the least pleasant months of the year (with exceptions for my birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, and my Mom’s birthday (hi Mom!!!)). The weather sucks, there’s a random, unnecessary time change, and everyone is grumpy after being caged up together since Thanksgiving. Let’s be honest, the hygge can only last so long, folks.
If I ruled the world (or at least owned my own company), there would be at least one free holiday sometime in March or April. In fact, I might just imitate the British tradition and give everyone a “bank holiday” once per quarter. Why not? No one really wants to work, and it would help prevent burnout if you could tell your boss to shove it without consequences, instead of burning more hours sending e-mails and holding meetings. Research has shown that humans need to spend time “doing nothing” to work though roadblocks which require creative thinking. Granted, a whole day is a lot of time to do nothing, and most of us (myself included) would likely waste the time watching Netflix and getting drunk. But what a relaxing drunk afternoon it would be.
ANYway, the last two years, I’ve taken taken a spring vacation, even though I have no excuse to (I have no kids and I’m not in academia). Let me tell you, folks, it has been a great decision both times. Now that I’m gainfully employed, I can actually (barely) afford to travel (unlike when I was a broke boy back in college and would spend the week working as much as possible at my campus job), so I’ve spent my precious vacation days to take extended weekends to warm, sunny places, like Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California, and blown my precious slim budget to rent cars nicer than mine so I can pretend for a few days that I live a care-free jet-setter life which involves undone buttons and rolled-up sleeves on my usually sharp button-up, casual sunglasses and stubble, wind blowing through my hair, and a smile which actually reveals my teeth, instead of my usual pained grimace. Each time, I’ve returned refreshed, sun-burnt, and aching for the weather to improve so I can blast Carly Rae Jepsen with the windows down while I’m flying down the highway home from work on Friday.
Look, even my boss takes 5 days off surrounding St. Patrick’s Day every year to watch March Madness and drink his face off. If the people in charge are taking time off, why shouldn’t everyone? Not all of us can afford to spend every weekend golfing in Florida, so the least we can ask for is a free spring holiday.