Over the summer I found myself working two jobs in the same mall for around ten dollars an hour. I worked myself much harder than I could handle because I not only wanted/needed the money, but also because taking a day off gave me so much anxiety. I felt myself rotting away at home when I wasn’t actively doing something. Scrolling through TikTok or watching Netflix made me feel like my brain was deteriorating and my worth as a person with it. I could never truly enjoy a day off when I got one. It took me a while to realize that the pressures of productivity were a result of my internalized capitalism that many Americans also struggle with. Taking a day off or calling in sick is something that people are afraid to do. We believe that if we could be doing work, we should be.
One way I learned to enjoy free time is to tell myself that I’ve earned it and that I deserve it. I don’t have to work X amount of hours to deserve time off. Oftentimes we find ourselves competing with others and their workload and comparing ourselves to them. We say things like, “Well they work this many hours and don’t need a break, so I should be the same!” That is far from the right mindset, though. Everyone is different and can handle different workloads. Nobody should feel bad for needing more breaks or more time off. Work is a mentally taxing activity and it’s okay to need a break from it.
We live in a society where our worth is measured by our value to a corporation. We are much more than employees, though. We are humans, not machines. Everyone deserves to enjoy free time. Don’t feel guilty for binging Netflix or scrolling through TikTok for hours on days where you feel burnt out. Recharging is necessary and should be normalized.
Internalized capitalism and hustle culture have put unneeded pressures on society to become burnt out from work, leaving no time to take care of ourselves. If we continue this toxic mindset, enjoying life will become a thing of the past.