Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, UVic Style

Like many busy university students, I often put leisure time at the bottom of my priority list.

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Since beginning my Recreation and Health Education degree, however, I have learned that there is much more to leisure than meets the eye. Humans are not meant to work endlessly, or to be serious and productive at all hours of the day. Leisure is a way to escape from our busy lives, refresh ourselves from work, and to be our truest selves.

I thought I was incorporating leisure into my life effectively, until I wrote a paper on my personal leisure habits. I was shocked to see how my perceptions of leisure, free time and spontaneity have changed since coming to university.

To set the stage, my assignment was to pull a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” – to drop all my plans and just have fun, then write about it.

My Day Off

I took my day off last Friday, and decided to spend my day checking out the new CARSA climbing wall with my boyfriend.

It was nice, but strange not having any sort of schedule to stick to, and we wandered out the door at the most relaxed pace I have ever headed to school with. I still felt like I wanted to rush though. The fact that this day was supposed to be school, work and homework-free actually made me feel a bit anxious.

We arrived at CARSA and I found myself getting antsy as we waited in line to be given the climbing wall safety talk and belay tests. I realized I am so used to squeezing my leisure time into small slots in my day that I get riled up when any of that precious time is wasted.

Taking it Slow

carsa wallWe spent four hours at the climbing gym, which is by far the most time we’ve ever spent climbing. It was amazing! We took a lunch break and lay back on the mats to watch the other climbers. Instead of rushing to exhaust our muscles so we would “get our money’s worth,” we took our time, focused on technique, and probably learned more than we ever have before.

Obsessed with Time

Despite this lazy pace, I kept checking the time. Eventually my boyfriend stopped me and reminded me we had nowhere to be afterwards. It was such a shock. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have somewhere to be. I began to feel a creeping anxiety at this realization. I am so used to leading a jam-packed, bustling life that having zero plans made me feel like a failure. How could I be productive if I didn’t have a place to be or something to do? How could I fully utilize and enjoy my free time if I didn’t have any amazing plans to fill it with?

What started out as a fun assignment to skip a day of “normal life” turned into a lot of big realizations. I have always thought of myself as laid back and relaxed (which I once was). But without even noticing it, my busy and frantic life has significantly changed who I am. I’ve become engulfed in productivity and efficiency, and changed from a carefree, play-loving person into a regimented, stressed out machine. I have been living to work, and this has even translated into my leisure time.

These realizations were uncomfortable and a bit embarrassing. But through them, I learned that I need to manage my time not simply to achieve optimal productivity, but also to include longer, less stressed out periods of leisure where I can take care of “me” and not just my homework.

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