By Ester Latifi
For many of us, the break between the fall and winter terms are a time to stop thinking about deadlines and focus on spending time with family and friends. For others, the winter break means an opportunity for a vacation. Party after party, more gift exchanges than you can keep up with, copious amounts of sugar, socializing with different friend groups–December break is busy.
As students, we also spend our breaks picking up extra hours at work. After all, tuition won’t pay itself. If you’re like me, you’ve probably taken out student loans, probably thinking about staying on top of your work schedule, so you’re able to pay them off. In the past four years of my degree, I have spent every single break working as much as possible. So when my boyfriend asked if I would dogsit for him in Leduc over the holidays while he traveled to Europe this month, I figured it would be an excellent way to shake things up. The result of this agreement was a lot of time spent alone.
Being alone is something that intimidates a lot of people, myself included. I love spending time with others and filling up all my free time by making plans. Because I was staying in Leduc, making plans became a lot harder as it is about a forty-minute drive from everyone I know. Because I was also taking care of my boyfriend’s dog, I was required to be there fairly often to make sure the dog was fed, walked, and generally taken care of. It was a commitment much more complicated than merely getting daily dog snuggles. I initially felt antsy and frustrated every time I’d open social media and see my friends out doing fun things. I’m one of the busiest people I know, so it was weird suddenly having all the free time in the world to do…nothing.
This frustration didn’t last incredibly long. Sleeping in was extra good because I always woke up to dog cuddles, something I don’t get at my house. This dog is a pretty big one, so he requires daily walks (ideally, he should be taken out twice a day), and as a result, I went on a lot of long walks with the dog. This was great because it made me feel less horrible about all the unhealthy food we all eat over the holidays. If I had been at my house, I would probably have been watching Netflix and feeling too ashamed of myself to even go to the gym. This wasn’t a problem in Leduc.
Ultimately, I began to love being by myself. I still hung out with friends and family during the day, driving to Edmonton to spend time with loved ones even just for a few hours. Still, I always looked forward to going back to Leduc to make myself a cup of tea and read without interruption–things I already loved doing but took for granted. I spent New Year’s Eve enjoying a glass of red wine in the bathtub, going to bed right after midnight.
While it’s great to catch up with friends and family during much-needed breaks from school, it’s also essential to make sure you are getting some time to yourself. This doesn’t have to be as extreme as dogsitting forty minutes away from everyone–it can be as simple as going out for coffee alone. This break, I realized that I’m a pretty cool person, and the same goes for each one of you.