Have you ever felt like you needed a vacation after taking a vacation? I have, especially now that spring break is over. I didn’t even do anything last week, and now all I want is time off.

And that’s just the problem – I didn’t do anything. Now, I have all this work to catch up on. Why? Because I am one of a growing number of overextended Georgetown students with so many overlapping obligations that I have a hard time deciding who to disappoint when – more often than not, I settle for myself.

In the good old days (how I wish I were six years old again!), a vacation was a vacation. You spent time with your family, preferably in a warm and sunny place, away from the pressures of school and work. Vacations were fun no matter where you went or what you did, and the only complaint you could justifiably raise was having to split the French fries with your sister. Those days are long gone, and from the looks of things, they aren’t coming back anytime soon.

These days, vacations are not designed to be enjoyed, but rather to feel guilty about. It’s not strictly a product of the economy, though the tensions between those who can afford to travel versus those who can’t even take time off are still present. Meanwhile, for the generous folks who choose to go on service trips, I’m sure there’s a splinter cell of philanthropic-minded personalities trying to outdo one another. “How was your vacation?”Oh, lovely. I spent it building homes in Costa Rica.”You don’t say? Well, I volunteered at a clinic in Sri Lanka.”

Even among us so-called “normal” folks – the ones whose vacation highlights were winning something on eBay and visiting the orthodontist – there’s still plenty to feel guilty about, especially if you belong to the Georgetown chapter of Overachievers Anonymous.

It’s not an issue of having taken time off while people are losing their jobs left and right. It’s an issue of having taken any time for yourself at all and feeling guilt and anxiety about how you’re going to make up the lost time and tackle that never-ending pile of work.

Case in point: This week I was expected to have read four books, write a 10-page paper, this column, another paper, create a vocal arrangement of a song, attend four rehearsals and play piano at Mass. If I were the practical type, I would have been tempted to use the break to get ahead on these assignments.

Of course, this would have meant that I would not have had time to play piano for my grandmother or catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in years. Instead, professors insisted on cutting into my vacation time and several student groups had the audacity to suggest that I return to Georgetown early to help out. To quote the Rolling Stones, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!”

y intention is not to elicit sympathy. I’ll find a way to get the work done, and I’m sure many of you find yourselves in worse predicaments than mine. If so, then perhaps you will agree that this is part of a broader problem sweeping the country – the collective inability to say no, out of anxiety or fear or guilt. Just because vacations aren’t what they were when we were six doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t think like 6-year-olds sometimes. Remember the D.A.R.E. program? “Just say no.” Well, just say it already.

Ideally we would have already been saying it. We would not find ourselves overextended in the first place if we were more aware of our limits and stood our ground. We can’t change the past and existing commitments have to be honored, but when it is not possible to keep those promises – or when threats to one’s sanity make it necessary to put them on hold – there is nothing to feel guilty about.

Leisure has its place, but it has its limits as well. It’s best in small doses, and is not right for everyone – side effects include mild to moderate euphoria, enthusiasm, joie de vivre and increased attentiveness. In rare cases, patients reported shortness of breath due to increased laughter. Talk to your doctor if you experience freedom-guilt for more than four hours, as this may be a sign that you might actually enjoy your life. Ask your doctor if relaxation is right for you.

Then again, maybe pushing pills on you is irresponsible. The next time you feel guilty about taking time for yourself, go the natural route: Think about whether this feeling is healthy or helpful, and if it isn’t, just say “no.” It will be just what the doctor ordered.

Colin Nagle is a sophomore in the College. He can be reached at naglethehoya.com. Getting in Tune appears every other Friday.

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