Why Vacations are Actually More Stressful than Real Life

It’s crazy how hard it is to change channels. Going on vacation, for instance. It’s supposed to be relaxing but it’s stressful before it’s relaxing. If you attached electrodes to your body to create a stress chart of a vacation, it would start at normal high stress, then increase to impossibly heart-attack high, then reduce while on vacation, then rise back up again once you return home. Then, the more stressful normal life gets, the less stressed you feel, because it’s so familiar. Then the stress gets to a level that’s so high that you need to de-stress again, and the whole process starts over.

In a way, just staying at your normal level of stress is less stressful than the work of de-stressing.

For instance—I signed up for this October singing workshop back in June. Seemed like I had plenty of time to prepare. But on the very eve of when I was supposed to leave, everything went sideways. A million work things came up last minute. There were health things. There were emotional problems. I couldn’t imagine driving a couple of hundred miles away to do something totally fun and enjoyable, even if I brought my computer with me. It was a sheer impossibility! So, in my confusion, I tried to cancel my hotel room but kept my cat sitter. And I tried to cancel the workshop but printed out all the instructions for getting there. I couldn’t decide if I would be a responsible business owner if I stayed home or if I would just be an idiot who flushed my deposit down the drain and doesn’t know how to have fun. In the end, pretty much at the eleventh hour, I realized I was doing a thing I have dubbed “desperate vacation avoidance,” so I packed my car up and went.

And everything is fine. I’m enjoying the workshop and also have plenty of time to keep up with work. It’s no big deal at all. Just a change of scenery. But the act of changing channels, realizing I was going to be doing something different in a different place, under different circumstances—hold the phone! It’s the end of the world! But you have to do this stuff or you get stuck in a rut.

You have to face the stress of stressing.

It’s the only way to remember that you are not your house, your office, your car, your cat, your leaky roof, your neighborhood. You are you, and you can exist in a wide variety of different circumstances. Incidentally, the workshop participants have declared their opinion of me as: “no fucks left to give, but in a good way,” and the teacher has pronounced that although some people would say I’m tone deaf, with his brilliant technique he will save me from certain musical oblivion. Apparently, I’m such a hard case that he’s planning to use my eventual success as a resume piece. That’s fine by me. I’m proud of myself just for leaving the freakin’ house. I don’t need to sing on key, too. That would be an embarrassment of riches.

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