I’ve been working at my job (an advertising agency) for two years now, and we have pretty laid-back vacation policies. Up to three weeks per year, I can take time off whenever I feel the need, as long as all of my clients and client work have been tended to and/or is being covered by someone else while I’m gone. But, despite these lax policies, I never take vacations. In fact, in two years, I’ve only ever taken one, and that was just recently.
Why? Honestly, I don't know. I guess I’m a workaholic. I've saved up enough "time-off" to go away for weeks if I wanted. But, I've always had this made-up truth in my head that if I don't take vacations, people will not only think that I'm a hard worker, but they'll know that I'm a hard worker. And a lot of times, at my job, I don't have time to take vacations. Every time I think about it, I remember that, if I'm not doing the work, who's going to do it for me? And who's going to do it the way I need it done?
There's also the fact that I'm a 23 year-old, young black professional living in a big city. I don't have the salary to truly enjoy vacations like most of my co-workers. This is part of the reason why I don't mind working so much – so I can change that issue as quickly as possible. I could "staycation" it up, but like I said, I'd rather just work and make sure my things are being done the way I want them done. Maybe I'm weird.
I also have this feeling that since I’m young and black in a field that’s not racially diverse (I’m 1 of 3 black people in a company of 100), I need to prove myself even more than the next person. We were all taught by our parents when we were young that, “YOU have to work twice as hard to get the same respect as they do.” I always brushed this off until I went to a predominately-white instituation and realized how true that was.
Vacations are vital though, I'm just now beginning to understand that. Vacations allow you a chance to get away from the office, and to recharge your batteries. If you work in a creative environment like I do, vacations allow you to become inspired again, to develop fresh ideas and fresh perspectives. They allow for a break from groupthink, and when you come back, you might have something to offer that you would've never had beforehand because you were so exhausted.
So stop being annoyed every time Jenna & Paul take a vacation to some exotic location that you've never been to. Stop wondering whether people will care or look at you differently if you decide you need a break. Stop working yourself into the ground and offering yourself no reward.
If you don't do it for yourself, no one will. Don't allow yourself to get to that point of burnout. Just do it. Take that vacation. Take that break from reality. You deserve it. Know that.