There it is, that feverish feeling.
I’m burning up while I’m freezing cold. It feels like an invisible anvil is sitting on my chest, pushing down on my lungs, slowly but surely. The anvil gets heavier every day. The effort to push it off isn’t worth the stress. Now is my time to relax.
Last semester, I worked myself to the bone. I sat in the front row of every class and prioritized my education over leisure time. I leaped from staff writer to the senior sports editor for The Spectrum, and while it was challenging, I managed to write sports pieces that I’m truly proud of. Coming home to Long Island for six weeks of relaxation should’ve been a reward.
I should be able to sleep in until 5 p.m. if I want to. I should be able to eat as much shredded cheese as I please. I should be able to lie down in my bed and rewatch “Better Call Saul” until the sun blows up — or at least until it’s time to go back to school.
I shouldn’t have to get a job. I’ve worked hard enough this semester, and now it’s time to shamelessly do absolutely nothing.
And so, I did just that. I did nothing.
For the entirety of winter break, I sat in my bed and rarely went outside of my house. I hung out with my girlfriend and I went out with my friends on occasion, but my schedule consisted of eating, watching movies, playing Xbox and sleeping. The first few days of slacking were bliss. I enjoyed sipping dark roast coffee at 8:30 p.m. and maintained a patchy 5 o’clock shadow.
My parents kept telling me to “get a job.” I brushed them off as if they didn’t know what they were talking about. But looking back on this past winter break, they were absolutely right.
After one full week of neglecting a much-needed trip outdoors, I developed an emotional fever.
It’s truly incredible how much your emotional state affects your physical state. I’d never realized how long 24 hours is without some sort of occupation. You truly feel every minute of every hour when you don’t occupy yourself. I stayed inside for almost 30 days, and I started to feel sick.
I didn’t have a fever, or strep, or any kind of illness. My self esteem reached such a low level that I felt lethargic. I became a self-isolated zombie, all because I refused to get a healthy dose of sunshine.
Eventually, my patchy beard and I decided enough was enough. It was time to find a solid, productive reason to leave my house.
Naturally, it was very difficult to find an establishment to hire me for one month. During the last two weeks of my winter break, I signed up for Uber Eats. As simple a job as it may seem, it gave me a reason to leave my house — and, more importantly, a reason to shave.
After a four-hour shift of Uber Eats, the mental and emotional anvil felt a whole lot lighter. I was finally able to breathe. Just walking down my front stoop and getting in my car, knowing I was being productive, improved my self esteem tenfold.
It’s really easy to get couped up at home, especially after a hard-fought semester. But it’s important, even over breaks, to occupy yourself with either a job or some sort of physical activity.
That hunk of iron sitting on your chest isn’t as heavy as you think. You only feel that way because you’ve let it weigh you down for too long. You start with pushing the anvil, then work your way to shoving it. Eventually, the mass of steel will be as weightless as a feather. Some people will need more time than others, but it always ends with the same result: fulfillment and higher self esteem.
Dylan Greco is the opinion editor and can be reached at email@example.com