Last Saturday night, for the first Saturday night in a very long time, I decided to have a night in and do something productive. You know – catch up on work, browse some jobs, do a facemask, finally send a Facebook message reply to my London-based girlfriend who just got engaged. Instead, I crawled into my bed, binge-watched five hours of almost uninterrupted television, and ate an entire bag of popcorn. Resisting was futile – I succumbed to what I wanted to do, rather than what I intended to do.
There’s a certain amount of guilt attached to spending five hours of a weekend night curled up in bed, unless you’re getting cozy with a significant other, or maybe with the unabridged edition of The Feminine Mystique – depends what your friends would rather hear over brunch the next day. But one of the most important personal discoveries I’ve made over the last few years is that 30-something doesn’t have to mean 30-everything. And relaxing doesn’t always mean picking at a plate of cheese and crackers and sipping mimosas with your girlfriends. It can mean comfy sweatpants and zoning out to something you can’t even remember the title of.
I think I speak for most millennial women – well, most women in general – when I say that I spend almost every waking moment thinking about work, relationships, or what I’m doing this weekend (what I’m eating for my next meal takes up a large chunk too). When we’re plugged in 24/7 — I can’t even get to sleep without knowing my phone is sufficiently charged and within arm’s reach – clocking off physically doesn’t mean clocking off mentally.
Then there’s that constant pressure to always be engaging in some form of self-improvement. If you finished work early, shouldn’t you go to a kick-boxing or yoga class? If you’re not going out, you might as well browse LinkedIn for opportunities, or latest high-salary job listings, no?
Perhaps the most difficult part is discerning between things people say are relaxing and things I actually enjoy. Cooking a healthy meal is good for the mind, body, and soul, but I save the best recipes for when I have time to browse a farmer’s market rather than deal with screaming kids in a supermarket check-out line. Exercise? Love it – but only when it’s on my time schedule. And don’t even talk to me about detoxes.
My thirties have been exciting, overwhelming, and unpredictable. But my biggest discovery has been that spending an extra two hours at work every day isn’t going to change that. Accessorising with popcorn kernels won’t either, but it will make the ride a whole lot more enjoyable.
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