I jumped out of bed this morning. Literally jumped, because the alarm on my phone started playing Layla at full blast and I wanted to switch it off as soon as possible so that it didn’t wake my boyfriend’s housemates or mean that he couldn’t get back to sleep. And so it began – I got to work early, I tidied my Fantasy section (it was truly horrific), I was done by the time it came to read with children, I read my emails, I took the massive pile of book returns behind my desk and… and so on, until 4pm. And since it’s essay season, it won’t end there.
Essay season is the time of year when I do not have minutes to spare. Usually in this period I will sit during my work lunch break with my laptop on my knee, munching lame sandwiches whilst I transcribe quotes from hardback book to document. After work I will go straight to the library via some kind of fast food (thank you, Japanese Canteen Tottenham Court Road) and work until I can’t concentrate or can’t stay awake anymore. This week is even worse than usual for work-and-uni balance: not only is it a four-day week (although fuck me, I was glad of the extra day of weekend, and spent most of it in coffee shops working) with less time in which to accomplish things, I have two major dates in my calendar by which a certain amount of things need to be done. Both of which are Thursday. One of which I need somebody else to have done something for.
You know what’s amazing, though? I’m stressed as fuck but I’m not frazzled. I’m now engaged in a setting where I don’t have time for anything that’s not a priority and my job is getting through those priorities as efficiently as possible. I can do efficient, smiley robot really very well, I know I can do all of these tasks and I know I will enjoy hitting all of those deadlines – repeatedly – with a hockey stick, driving them into the ground by the pointy end.
Historically, it has not been because of the pressure, but the moment after the pressure eases that the problems have occurred. That is the moment that I take a breath and find myself having a panic attack at the brutal fact that my workload has not eased despite all the things I’ve accomplished, that the bar I set for myself is still so high that I’m doing metaphorical chest hangs to keep myself happy – essentially, when I find out that life goes on no matter how badly or how well you do. Maybe that’s a comforting thought to some people, but not to me.
This year, though, I have done something very sensible – I have taken holiday for the end of essay season. Not time off to work in. Nope. Not time to travel in, either. Time off to sleep and do something nice and not achieve anything. Then maybe I can come back into work and be satisfied with the lighter pressure of the never-ending, non-urgent tasks.
Say it with me – holiday. HOL-I-DAY. HOLIDAY IS COMING.