I just took two months off.
From this blog, obviously, but also from my Phd.
At first I didn’t think I could do it. We all know how hard it is to get started again once you stop something, right? What if I never read another academic paper again, ever?? What if I never sat at my desk and struggled to synthesise what seems like a hundred different ideas into something coherent and meaningful?? What if I never finished the novel that I have tended so lovingly for the past year or so??
What if I…never blogged again??
I’m here to tell you that sometimes taking some time out is the best thing you could ever do. My head was fit to burst with the machinations of moving house in a country that’s a stickler for having everything look brand new when you leave (yes, you, Switzerland). I had a sick husband, a sick daughter, and a very sick family member back in Australia. I had all my lovely music students to think about and all the other stuff that goes along with being a functioning member of a family and community. So I gave myself permission to take a break from something I love. I gave myself permission to stop doing something I had committed to do, knowing the risks and especially the fact that doing a Phd like this relies completely on self-motivation in the first place.
But it worked. It gave me the head (and time) space I needed and now I’m ready to start again.
We think it’s important to teach ourselves and our children that self-discipline is crucial to getting ahead, that if we start something we must finish it, that hard work has a value above anything else and that failure is not an option.
Yet isn’t it just as important to have a level of self-awareness that lets you manage your own expectations of what you are capable of doing, and which helps you to recognise when too much is, simply, too much?
I hope that my daughter will learn to give herself a break when she needs one, and that she will understand that doing so is not a sign that she is failing, rather one that she is coping.
(Here’s the lovely lake I live near, where one can stare at the water and clouds for ages: perfect for clearing the mind!)