Blogmas Day 18: Sometimes the grind DOES stop

Hey, friends! It's another late post tonight, I'm afraid. I've been a little all over the place today, but I'm really happy to be ending my night with you all. I've said it before, but I really can't believe Blogmas is almost over! This year the holiday season really snuck up on me, and while I feel like people say that every year, it's especially true this time around. That must have something to do with the lack of cold weather and the fact that I've yet to go home for winter break. But I will soon! As of Monday (fingers crossed!) I'll be finishing up Blogmas from the comfort of my parents' house in Northern Virginia, two hours from where I am now. I can't tell you how happy I am to have a break, although I do feel a little guilty taking two and a half weeks off.

To backtrack a little, let's rewind back to October. The semester was about halfway done, I was getting good grades, and I was starting to get the hang of juggling two jobs. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty confident in myself. Because of this, I decided it would be a great idea to forgo a real Thanksgiving and Christmas break at home with my family, choosing instead to work at Ulta. I was in no way pressured to do this, and I really thought it'd be a great idea at the time. I enthusiastically told my manager that I was ready to work for her all break long, no questions asked, and patted myself on the back for my industrious spirit.

But what seemed like a good idea in October, I quickly realized, wasn't all sunshine and roses once the holidays actually rolled around. At the end of November, while my friends, roommates, and coworkers all packed up to head home to their families and turkey spreads, I found myself working at Ulta the days immediately before and after Thanksgiving. A little bummed, I called my mom and we worked out a plan: I'd be able to come home for five days, during which time we'd have a small family Thanksgiving (just me, her, and my stepdad) a few days early. This was a great solution to combat this choice I had made, though I silently wished I could go back to that day in October when I said I wanted holiday hours. The money, admittedly, was good (and such-needed, as my electric bill was due), but I felt super lonely and empty as I sat on the couch of my empty apartment on Thanksgiving day, eating turkey soup and dinner rolls as I flicked through my Instagram feed full of happy hearts and full stomachs.

Thanksgiving's never really been my favorite holiday, though, so other than a few glum moments, I spent the day cleaning, hanging out with myself, and watching TV. The rest of the time, I was working or sleeping, and when the rest of my college's population trickled back into town, it was like I was never even alone in the first place. After the turkey break, I spent the remaining three weeks working hard at both of my two jobs, studying, and taking final exams. That brings us to now. Or rather, yesterday to be exact.

I went into work last night prepared to see my schedule for the next week. I knew I had begged for lots of hours, but I had a feeling I'd have at least a few days to see my family and be home for the holidays. When I went into the back and read through the hours, though, I came to find a disheartening calendar for myself:

Wednesday, December 23rd: 4-11
Thursday, December 24th: 9-4
Saturday, December 26th: 10-5

I checked the schedule a few more times, trying to convince myself that maybe there was a typo or I wasn't reading carefully enough. But no, the hours in front of me were exactly as planned, and I realized I wouldn't get to go home for Christmas at all. It would be a day spent alone, having presents mailed to and from my apartment, watching cheesy Lifetime movies and being super self-pitying. But I knew I couldn't complain: this wasn't any fault on my managers' part. I asked for lots of hours, and lots of hours I received. I just realized maybe a little too late that what seems like a great idea in October turns out to be a Christmas anti-miracle.

Last night I went to bed with a heavy heart and lots of self-pity. Though I know lots of people have it way, way worse (there are thousands and thousands of people who can't be with their families this holiday season), I wanted nothing more than to be home. So, after talking the ear off of my roommate, my mom, and practically anyone else who would listen, I decided I would rectify the situation. It's something I still feel a little guilty about (though I really needn't), but I think that's just because my anxiety makes me feel guilty or flustered practically all the time.

I woke this morning with a renewed sense of worth. I've realized that while I love working and I love the freedom it gives me, it's not everything. I turned into a little bit of a workaholic this semester, and while that's not a bad thing, neither is a break where a break is due. I made Dean's List after busting my butt through fifteen credit hours, I used my creative energy to its fullest at my marketing job, and I've sold more makeup palettes in the past four months than I can count. So...I decided I wanted--no, needed--a few weeks to go home for the holidays. Though I asked for a bunch of hours, and my manager complied so graciously, I had a feeling that if I asked for the time off, she'd accommodate. That, if anything, is a perk of being a hard worker: when the going gets tough and you really need a favor, you can usually get people to pull some strings. I was delighted to find that this morning, our exchange was pretty nonchalant:

"Hey, can I take the next two weeks off?"
"Yeah, that should be fine! Just leave me a note so I'll remember to keep you off the schedule!"

And that was it.

So, in short, I got the 27th of December through the 10th of January off. I managed to find some girls I work with (bless their angel souls) who agreed to switch some shifts with me, and as of now have pretty much everything lined up. There are still a few loose ends to tie up, but it's looking like I get to go home on Monday morning. I get to decorate the Christmas tree with my parents and watch their faces light up when I give them their gifts. I get to dress my dog up in the pajamas I bought her at Target, because I'm that kind of crazy dog lady. I get to drive around with my high school friends and talk shit about boys and days gone by. And I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I regret being so gung-ho back in October, but I'm happy that I'm giving myself some much deserved time off. Sure, this means I'm missing out on a few hundred dollars that I really would like to have (obviously), but you can't quite put a price on peace of mind and quality time with the people you love. That's what the holidays are about, anyways.

I hope you're having a great start to your weekend and you realize just how worthwhile and precious you and your time are. The lesson I've learned these past few days: contrary to popular belief, sometimes the grind does stop, and often that's for the better.

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