Much-Needed Time Off—by Jamie Levine

Ahhhh…vacation. In my dreams, my vacation is spent lounging on a tropical island (either with, or without my daughter, as my dreams vacillate between the two options, depending on my mood); in reality, my winter break from grad school was one measly week spent at home in cold New York. But you know what? I appreciated every moment of it.

My first day of “vacation” was Martin Luther King Day, a day whose importance my daughter acknowledged by telling me, “I feel bad for Martin Luther King because he wasn’t allowed in the ice cream store like everyone else.” And that evening, while my parents tucked my darling little daughter into bed, I was wined and dined in New York City, “grown up” style, in anticipation of my upcoming birthday—a great kick-start to the rest of the week.

I can’t say I did or went anywhere extraordinary, but after an intense cycle of classes (culminating in a 20-page research paper and an 18-page term project, as well as a 4.0 average), it was nice for me to not have to think about anything school-oriented for a few days. I went to the gym every morning, leisurely ran errands afterwards, met good friends for lunch, caught up with some long distance pals online and over the phone, went on a couple of dates, drank my fair share of good wine, and even took care of a few doctor’s appointments (allowing myself to thumb through a magazine rather than my requisite text book, while I sat in waiting room). Most importantly, I tried to focus on me for a change—and tried to start taking better care of myself emotionally.

Ever since my long-ago break-up with Library Guy, I’ve been unsure of what I want, romantically, in my life. I’ve floundered between not being ready to date to wanting tons of attention from guys and dating like mad just to “have fun,” to wanting something serious and not being able to let my guard down, to simply being the confused mess I am now. And as an amazing friend of mine wisely pointed out to me this week, what I really need to do is work on giving myself everything I want a man to give me and to “be the love that I wish to receive.” She assured me that “the universe gives you what you want,” so I need to “put out what I want to get in return.” And while I generally roll my eyes at “new agey” stuff like that, some of what she told me rang true. Especially when the following day I heard from (and bumped into) a few former love interests, and realized I was emanating true self-confidence and happiness.

It’s been an interesting week. And I won’t even speculate on what the next few weeks will bring. But as I return to school, and start to focus on my studies again, I intend to keep at least some of my focus on myself and what I really want. Hopefully I’ll come up with something wonderful…and the universe will make sure I get it.