Over the holidays AU, like most businesses, closes. AU courses that would have ended December 31st have their exam deadlines extended into January to accommodate the closure; this can mean that you feel like you have some “bonus-time.” It can feel like a great time to get ahead or caught up. But on top of other holiday obligations, this “bonus-time” can add stress to a time that is supposed to be rejuvenating.
When I was in the final courses to my degree, this bonus time felt like a gift—a way to get ahead. I used this time to get loads of work done on my courses, work that I felt could not wait. I wanted to graduate in June, and, if I was going to, that meant I could not have a day off for anything other than Christmas itself. So, I put nose to the grindstone and finished—two whole months ahead of schedule. I guess I could have taken a week off at Christmas. I could have baked more, and visited more; I could have taken the time to see friends that were home for the holiday break instead of locking myself in a small room with a computer and a stack of books.
It is easy to take this “bonus-time” and lock yourself away. There is nothing wrong with ambition and being self-driven; they are key attributes to success. But knowing when to pause is important too. It is important to take the time, when many others have time off too, and join the festivities. To visit friends, to bake cookies, to take pleasure in the small moments, whether you’re decorating a tree, or just enjoying a movie with family. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, you still get this time off; time that is best spent with family and friends (whether it is in celebration of the holiday or not).
Old habits die hard, though, and despite believing in the importance of taking this time off, it is difficult to do. Many agencies are closing for the holiday break, which means I have “bonus-time” to perfect queries and pitches without the pressure of wanting to send them right away (because I can’t). I feel like the time should be used to make progress on my works-in-progress or researching. However, this year I am determined to take some time off, to bake some holiday goodies, set up the tree, and visit with friends and family.
This time is bonus time, but it isn’t, or perhaps shouldn’t, be viewed as bonus time to get work done. Instead, consider it time off from everything. Time to spend guilt-free baking, decorating, visiting, or hiding out with a favourite movie.
On this note, I am going to stop what I am working on, stop researching, stop writing, take my time free of obligations and I am going to bake those sugar cookies.
Deanna Roney is an AU graduate who loves adventure in life and literature.