I Just Got Vacation Shamed

Work hard, play hard. It’s not just a cliché. Ok, maybe it is, but it can be achieved and in my humble opinion should be. Coming from the glow of an amazing France vacation, I feel quite passionately about this, especially due to the fact that I was actually vacation shamed today.

If you are a contributing member of your organization, put in hours to move the needle towards your company’s mission, vision and values, you should be encouraged to take breaks to decompress outside of work. And you in fact earn this right when you sign up to exchange your time for money. So, why do people feel the need to shame you when you cash in?

Stress in the workplace is a real thing, and in fact causes more than workplace problems. Loss of sleep, anxiety, distraction from priority, complaining to spouses, paralyzing fear of coming to work, headaches, loss of appetite, depression…..and I’m speaking from personal experience here. There are multiple articles about where stress derives from in the workplace, Victor Lipman writes extremely thoughtful and insightful articles on the subject, and I’ve been a student of dealing with stress in a positive, productive way since I entered the workplace. I actually wrote a blog about replacing complaining with action back in January. So, when coworkers comment or speculate about my taking time to pursue non-work activity, I had to step back and reflect.

I am a work hard, play hard kind of person. I tend to give my all in my endeavors, whether that be work related or passion related. And in being questioned about my taking time off, the perception of a relaxed, happy person apparently has raised eyebrows. Now, this questioning came from a colleague I consider to be a friend, someone I have been transparent and candid with along our professional journey together. This person follows me on social media, as I am a transparent person, Here’s how the conversation went down:

Colleague: “How was your trip to France? It looked awesome.”

Me: “It was wonderful, thanks! A gorgeous country for sure.”

Colleague: “So, let me just ask you, with the amount of vacation you’ve been taking, I guess you have one foot out the door, huh?”

Me: “…………………….”

Colleague: “I mean, it seems like you’re trying to burn through your vacation because you’re planning to leave.”

The undertones of these words reeked of someone who thought I shouldn’t be taking this time off.

Me, very calmly: “So, I’ve been with the company for almost 7 years and have accrued quite a lot of vacation. Plus, am of the mindset that you should take your vacation, take time away. So, I do.”

What I should have said: “I’m glad you are following my out-of-work life so closely, but maybe you should take some time for your own break? Seems like the voyeuristic part of you could use one. I know perception drives reality, but I do want to remind you that social media reflects the highlight reel, the golden times and you may need to remove yourself from the swirl if you’re not able to separate or detach from other people’s stories. I would also suggest some yoga and outside therapy to remove yourself from the judgmental throne you sit upon.”

In reflecting on the conversation, I really did my damndest to not sound defensive, not overly articulate why I feel I should be taking vacation, not totally loose my cool on someone who claimed be my buddy. I’m calling bull sh&% on that one. The fact of the matter is, there are people who will never know how to be happy for you, never know how to remove judgment from their conscious, never really know how to step back and take a look at how they are dealing with life, instead of how others are handling it.

Let’s be honest, we all have lives, families, friends, hobbies outside of work (well, I hope we all do!) and I have realized that if I’m not prioritizing my health, wellness, happiness, everything suffers, including my professional life. Throughout my professional life, I’ve worked extremely hard to figure out a work-life balance that works for me. Do I make the most of my time spent outside of work? Absolutely, and I’m not afraid to be proud of that. Does that mean I don’t give my professional tasks and goals 100%? Absolutely not.

My advice and two cents, for all who may have found themselves in a similar situation, where guilt may be cast from either co-workers, bosses, colleagues, or even so called friends: live happy. Be intentional. Move as much as possible. Explore. Remove the unnecessary from your life (this unfortunately could mean people). And prioritize your health, because that above all, allows for all the rest. And whatever you choose to do with your time, do it with as much passion as possible. Yes, it may turn some heads, but if you’re true to yourself, let em’ turn.

Happy Friday!

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