You know when someone speeds past you on the road and for a split second you feel like you’re losing, and you fight the urge to floor it? And then you catch up at a stoplight, and you feel wicked delight. “Muahahaha! You drove like a maniac and still didn’t get anywhere fast!”
Life’s been like that lately. At 10:30 one night last week, I asked my suitemate if I could go to bed.
She said, “You’re asking me for permission?”
“I feel guilty,” I admitted. “If I go to bed now, I’ll get more than eight hours of sleep.”
Horrors! More than eight hours of sleep? I’m practically napping my life away.
See, if I get eight hours of sleep, someone who’s getting six hours might speed past me. They’ll get all the good jobs, and I’ll be living in a cardboard box on the roadside. As I crawled into bed at 10:30, I could imagine all those six-hour people zooming past me on the road to the future, and I fought the urge to floor it, to skip out on sleep and catch up with them.
Actually, in the past week, I’ve taken two naps and watched some thirty episodes of Fringe, Leverage, and Criminal Minds. I’ve had a shocking amount of free time, thanks to surprisingly short homework assignments and last-minute cancelled meetings, and I told myself I needed a break. But I still felt bad.
It’s significant that we call binging a guilty pleasure. The top Google results all have “loneliness” and “depression” in them. I even found one that said people who binge-watch die early.
Woops. Now my life is in danger.
See, it’s not that I feel guilty for neglecting responsibilities. It’s that I feel guilty for taking a break when I need it. When I’m done everything. When I’m so tired I can’t see straight. If I’ve finished this week’s homework, I think I should be doing next week’s.
And then I wonder why I don’t have time for deep relationships. Why I sleep badly, lack focus, struggle with alternating apathy and panic. Because if I’m not doing something every second, all those people who are will speed past me. And in a competitive world, with the internet handing me depressing statistics and pressure on me from every link I follow, I need that one more hour of work, that one extra volunteer job, that one last…
No, I don’t.
I need rest.
So this week, I napped. I binge-watched entire seasons of Fringe, laughed with friends, and refused to feel guilty for not doing homework seven days early.
Because even if all those six-hours-of-sleep people zoom past me, at some point, we’re all going to hit the same stoplight. And I’d rather not crash and burn before that.