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My Complicated Relationship With Free Time

When I was younger, I used to relish in free time. I used to read, hang out with friends, and just truly let myself relax. As I got older, time for leisurely activities was quickly swallowed by soccer or softball practice, pitching lessons, piano lessons, schoolwork and family time. Before I could catch my breath, I threw myself into college and things were okay again. I wasn't very social freshmen year and my workload wasn't massive, so there was still time to read and just enjoy my free time by exploring downtown. Then, with the flip of a switch, I got a job during the spring of my sophomore year and I seemed to have forgotten what it was like to have a spare moment to myself.

I felt like I had to use every ounce of time I had on something, whether it was studying, doing homework, working or trying to get more hours. Nothing seemed to stop after that. I left Cleveland in May to go home for the summer and jumped into working two jobs all summer, desperately trying to save money for my apartment. From then on, it felt like an exponential downfall. I taught myself to enjoy being busy and to thrive off of a constant go, go, go lifestyle. I chugged coffees and bypassed sleep in order to try to keep living the same life I was without dispensing my free time to work.

All at once, I transformed my life into a series of balancing acts. Junior year, I balanced two jobs, continuously (and almost desperately) increasing my hours so I didn't have to suffer through free time after finishing my assignments. My plan was to keep packing on the responsibilities, tacking on dozens of bullets to my daily to do list just to keep myself from getting bored. Because of this, I forgot how to treat free time. When I know I have free time now, I panic and try to find productive things to fill it. I take every shift I can at work, every chance to babysit, any kind of job opportunity that might come my way.

I don't like having immense amounts of free time. I don't like lounging. I don't nap and I can't sleep in. There's only so much reading and writing I can do without wanting to put myself to sleep. But this has brought me to a place where I'd sooner stress myself to the point of a breakdown than let myself enjoy a week off.

Slowly but surely, I'd love to reteach myself this and reverse all of the bad habits I've formed. There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to hustle and get work done, but there comes a point where it all becomes too much. My relationship with free time is more complicated that I would like and it's something I hope to change over the coming years as I started to distance myself from college and school life and move on into the world of adulating.


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