Let me start off by saying this: I am not an uptight person. Nor am I high maintenance. In fact, many people over the years have remarked to me how alarmingly mellow I can be. And yet, I have one major character flaw that I can’t seem to overlook: I’m terrible at relaxing. It’s not that I can’t wrap my head around why people want to sleep in until 1 p.m. and sit in bed marathoning their latest Netflix obsession all weekend and never leave their apartment—trust me, I get it; it’s just that I physically can’t. I’ve never taken a beach vacation, I don’t relish the idea of a spa day, and I spring awake by 7 a.m. (if not sooner) seven days a week (and yup, I’m working out every single one of them, too).
Ever since I was a child, the thought of staying in one place has made my skin crawl. In retrospect, it’s probably the reason why I moved to New York, the way people in this city almost champion busyness to a fault. Think about it: The later and harder we work, the more successful we’re perceived. If ‘No Days Off’ is not your mantra, you should probably just catch the next train to Poughkeepsie.
However, I can’t help but think I can’t be the only one who doesn’t know how to relax. The self-consciousness I feel surrounding my unwillingness to just chill is due in part to the monopoly that is Self Care. Who decided that the only avenue for loving yourself is with a candlelit bath and $150 face creams? Or if you’re doing that, are you already doing too much? We idolize Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons, but does that mean we can’t find joy in the hecticness of a Tuesday during rush hour? All I want to know is why we’re subscribing to a singular definition of relaxation as complete nothingness? That’s not to say that if I want a massage, I won’t get a massage. Or that I’ll never get tired of working — because, let’s be real, I do. I just think we need to make room for the idea that maybe, doing the most isn’t a bad thing. We all have our limits, but they may just look different for each one of us.
This year, I’m relaxing how I want to. There will be the occasional slow Sunday, where I make a hungover pilgrimage to IHOP with my favorite people. But there will also be those days where I run for nine miles, learn a new hobby, and walk for miles upon miles upon miles. There will be days when I take in as much as life has to offer, because one day, I won’t have the opportunity to keep going. I’ve decided that this year, I won’t let myself feel ashamed for being restless. And the next time someone asks me what on earth I’m doing up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday, I’m going to smile to myself and simply say, “I’m relaxing.”
Feature image via Vanessa Granda