In defence of the summer vacay
By Sharon Miki, Columnist
I’m willing to bet that you—yes, you—deserve a break. I don’t mean, like, a five-minute scroll-through-Instagram break. I mean an actual don’t-work-at-all-just-rest kind of break—something that we used to refer to as summer vacation.
You remember summer vacation, right? For most of us, there was a time in our lives where we prioritized taking a step back from the rigors of routine in order to recharge, refresh, reflect and, ultimately, come back stronger. Nowadays, fewer and fewer of us are taking the time to map out a rest—and, counterintuitively, it’s making us weaker. We’re overscheduled, working harder, longer, and faster, moving from class to work to commitments in an endless loop. We worship competitive busyness. We brag about the lack of sleep we’re getting. We roll our eyes at the perceived laziness of our friends that invest in time away for themselves. But where is it getting us, really? We’re exhausted, our relationships are suffering, and we are half-assing everything. And, if we keep it up, we could be heading towards dangerous territory.
Karoshi, a Japanese term for “death by overwork” is an actual thing. Karoshi has been legally recognized as a cause of death in Japan since the 1980s—a type of accidental overdose on stress and exhaustion that causes the same end result as any type of lethal overdose. The rise in karoshi in Japan was the result of a similar work-work-work-work-work-work mentality—taking hard work and lack of rest to an extreme that wastes lives and destroys families.
I get it, though. In a culture that increasingly values output and productivity at all costs, it’s incredibly tempting to overwork due to extreme FOMO—a fear of missing out on success if you aren’t constantly in motion. I’ve fallen ill to this fear, myself, working day and night, eschewing vacations, and taking stat holidays as opportunities to work more. I thought I’d get ahead, but 24-7 output really just robbed me of enjoying being alive 24-7 (not to mention not being able to remember what happened at the last, like, three Christmases).
So what’s the solution? We just need to plan to chill. I know that life is competitive, but what if we started competing for the best friendships, healthy sleep patterns, and daily joy? Travel costs money that we might not have, but vacations don’t always have to involve travel. Really, summer vacation at minimum just needs to involve some sort of unplugging and stepping back from the grind. A weekend can be spent stressing over a computer, or it can be spent in the sunshine. The key is making rest and rejuvenation a priority—a part of your overall strategy for academic, social, and career success.
The truth is, you really can’t sleep when you’re dead, and life is so short. This summer, try your best to make like Ferris, because “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”