My apartment smells like an Anthropologie candle. A steaming Disney princess mug filled with vanilla-flavored coffee beckons. Turkey bacon sizzles on the stove.
I move into reclined bound angle pose on my artificial blue yoga mat, careful not to smudge my drying tea tree oil face mask or nick my fresh coat of nude nail polish on the wall of my closet-sized apartment.
It’s Sunday morning and I have absolutely nothing to do. No managers to impress, no events to host and no homework due Monday.
It’s been a week since I graduated college. In that time I have moved apartments, carting my things across Chicago to the city’s Far North Side, started my first journalism job fact-checking, helped my best friend pack for her cross-country move to L.A., hung my second diploma proudly on my wall (summa cum laude, baby!) and paid my first rent check entirely by myself.
And I’m freaking exhausted.
I’ve been employed since I was fifteen years old. I’ve worked as a waitress, a singer, a babysitter, a magic maker, a stand-in actress, a dead body—hell, one summer I rolled bags for my father’s trash and recycling business. All of them one at a time, thank God.
But now I work two jobs and run a blog. I barely have time to wash my face in the morning much less brainstorm and produce weekly content while remembering to go grocery shopping and buy makeup wipes.
I wake up, turn on the coffee maker, pack my lunch, brush my teeth, perform a five-minute makeup routine, throw on something professional and run to catch the Red Line to work at 8:30 a.m. At 5:30 p.m. I change into my costume and leave for my second job. I get home around midnight with just enough time to shower before bed and do it all over again the following day. I’ve been carrying on like this for quite some time. Even while I was in college—when I wasn’t in class, I was at work.
But, eventually you run out of clean underwear and dishes and shampoo and razors and socks and deodorant and milk and cereal and borderline give up on personal hygiene. Something had to be done.
So, I sat down with my manager and asked for Sundays off.
I hate asking for time off. I don’t call in sick unless I’m contagious or crying. I try to be the person that shows up fifteen minutes early and leaves ten minutes late. I want to complete jobs before being asked and turn my work in a day early. But at the same time, I want to go to church again. I want to watch romantic comedies. I want to drink my coffee at a table, not running out the door.
My grandmother always says, “When you don’t know what to do, do nothing.” I believe that sometimes, even when you know you have a million things to do, you should do nothing.
A few years before I was born my mother collapsed at work. “Overworked and exhausted,” the doctors told her. “Do less.” My grandmother bought her a one way ticket to Arizona to slow her down. A few months later my mother moved to the desert permanently and started Cowboy’s Delight, a denim fringe and banjo-toting two-woman country group with my grandmother. Good things can come from pressure, but there are lines you shouldn’t cross.
When I’m sprinting to the Red Line or washing my hair at 2 a.m., I picture my mother, eyes rolling back into her head, crumbling into the arms of her coworkers, waking up in the back of an ambulance.
This week, I haven’t been above tears, watching my best friend drive away, nursing my incurable and seemingly endless migraines and unpacking four years of college memories into a new apartment. More than one morning in the past several months I’ve felt dangerously close to collapse and I’ve been fielding calls from my mother for weeks. “Don’t be that person who passes out at work, Junie,” she warns me. Finally, I’ve decided to heed her call.
Today is my first Sunday off in months. I even took the time to read a book from cover to cover (Sophia Amoruso’s #GIRLBOSS). I can’t remember the last time I read for fun.
At the end of the day, my dresses, blazers and pants are ironed and hanging color-coded in my closet. My bath towels smell like Tide. The bookshelf has been alphabetized. My extensive movie collection has been stacked by genre. My trash cans are empty. My outfits have been picked out for the week. My lunch is packed. And I’m going to bed at 10 p.m.
Feature Image by Danielle Molnar