Sabbatical failure

Is it possible to do a sabbatical wrong? To be a sabbatical failure? Surely, there is no such thing, but did I feel like one last week. I had a Plan. The Plan was fairly simple: I work, take care of my kid and on my days off, I work on my SUV car camper. However, I had forgotten to take into account some plans that I made for the weekend. Also, something fun but unexpected came up. I don’t do too well with unexpected. I forget to expect the unexpected. Or at least, to calculate for it.

So, by mid-week I was exhausted. Nothing went according to the Plan. I forgot to plan my meals, to do my exercise, to go to bed on time. Everything I had done so nicely the week before, I completely threw out the window in the last week. I didn’t take the time to write or to reflect. I just did. Kept on going without reflecting on my actions. So, by the end of the week, I barely had any idea who I was. I felt like a sabbatical failure.

Figuring out what happened

Wasn’t I supposed work with my chaotic mind? Or was that what I did? Do I allow myself to run of the rails? Are my routines not routinely enough? Then again, and I don’t know if you have this too, in periods that are harder, I tend to throw everything out the window and just exist, no matter which routine I think I have. For me, just existing means watching a lot of Netflix, eating chocolate, staying up past midnight and forgetting to drink water. Exactly, all the things that will make me feel like crap even more.

The conclusion is simple. I was not working with my chaotic mind. I was blindly following it. My mind is not always right. It thinks whenever something fun comes up:


GIF of the classic Hyperbole and a half drawing. The main character, a stick figure, raises her hand in excitement while holding a broom. A yellow blot appears in the background to amplify her enthusiasm. Instead of 'Clean all the things', it says 'ALL THE THINGS!'
I used to love the comic Hyperbole-and-a-half. ‘All the things’ is a remnant that many still use.

It forgets I cannot do all the things for long periods on end. Especially in a week where my routine is already off. I probably should have reflected before I started stuffing my week chock-full of fun stuff.

Not a sabbatical failure after all

But the big question: do I regret it, in hindsight? Not a tiny bit. This week I got to spend so much time with the people I love most in the world. My family has made precious memories. Plus, we learned about setting boundaries and managing energy. In the middle of the week, my kid asked for time at home, without any plans, because she needed down time. She was smarter than I was. I said ‘of course’, cleared our schedule for the Wednesday and then canceled our plans for Sunday. Those calm days, just the two of us at home, were just as precious.

And finally, I looked at the week to come and canceled a couple of plans there, too. No matter how much I want to do all those things, I just can’t. Yes, I can have time with family and friends, but I cannot forget the downtime I (we) need. The semi-sabbatical was meant to take some rest, to focus on things that give me energy. Instead, I started packing everything social that I wanted to do into those couple of days. As an ambivert, I need about 50-50 of social time and alone time. In sum: what I was doing, wasn’t working and I needed to recalibrate.

Sunday, the day of rest

On Sunday afternoon, the day I cleared completely, I got to spend some relaxing time on my car camper. I got all sorts of stuff out of the car. Then I packed everything I want to bring in the car to see if it will fit. And it does. I still have to finish the window covers and do some small things, but I am almost done. Just having everything nice and neat and in the right place makes me so happy.

A foldable cart filled with stuff in the hallway of an apartment building. In the back you can see the elevator. The cart is dark green and holds one folded yellow/black crate, some cardboard, a golden bag that you can barely see and a blue crate that has stuff sticking out,
Taking stuff out of my car to make room for the camping gear I will need.

Now I realize I should have taken more pictures of the process. Like the really nice box that I have in the trunk with my cooking gear. I will do that next time. Live and learn baby, live and learn. There is no such thing as a sabbatical failure.

(Featured photo by Tim De Pauw on Unsplash)

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