Today is Tuesday, a workday, that I've chosen to take off for a number of reasons. When I originally asked for the day, I intended to drive to St Louis to surprise my family and visit my hometown. Circumstances prevented me from doing so, but since I had the date already reserved as 'off', I decided to stick with it. Throughout the last week, I debated my decision, questioning whether or not it's important enough for me to take off when I didn't really have a good reason to do so; I'm not sick, I'm not in St Louis, I'm not really doing anything worthy of a day away from the office.
And I'm sick with guilt, and afraid of what my colleagues (who don't normally do this sort of thing, at least to the best of my knowledge) might be thinking of their first year Cantor, taking off when she doesn't really need to.
This day is good for my sanity. After all, I have plenty of unused vacation days stored up. I've already tackled one of the two mountains of laundry that have been staring me in the face for weeks, and I'll tackle the next one later today. I'm heading out for a walk in a bit, something I haven't done in a long time. I'm sipping coffee and attempting to come to peace with yesterday's tragedy. I'm initiating conversations with my aunt and mom about wedding planning and hoping to get on the ball. I'm thinking ahead to tonight's board meeting, which I have every intention of attending. I'm allowing myself the day to rest and recharge and reconnect with myself. I know that come tomorrow, I'll work harder and be a better Cantor because of what I did today.
And then...the guilt pops in.
The guilt that I won't see my 4th graders today and someone else will.
The guilt that my co-clergy and other staff are working today and I'm not.
The guilt that I don't have children at home who demand attention whenever I'm not working.
The guilt that I'm not in St Louis and have no legitimate reason for taking the day off.
The guilt that I could be working harder today than I am.
It's amazing how I can delegitimize my life because my responsibilities and roles are different from that of my colleagues'. My life is still my own, full of complications and stresses and difficulties, even though I don't have a family or an overabundant workload. As much as I try to remind myself that it's unnecessary and unhelpful to compare my life to others, I can't help but carry the guilt of having it relatively easy--even if, to me, it's isn't always.
It's days like today when I realize how many growing edges I still possess in realms both personal and professional. Maybe someday I'll learn to set aside the guilt and just enjoy this peaceful day off, without fear that anyone is looking down on me for taking it. Or maybe not.