I Took a Personal Day and I’m Not Sorry

Monday was a long, but overall happy day. Tuesday, however, was much worse. We’re talking “no-good, very bad day” status. I won’t even go into the details but we’ll just say I left school after a long after school meeting, fuming. I walked to the subway half-furious, half-devastated and entirely exhausted. I did that weird little public half-cry where you wipe tears away before they really drop and try to pretend you’re not crying.

On the way home, I tried to find comfort in anything I could: I’m a good teacher, it’s almost the mid-point in the week, we get a break in two weeks wherein I’ll get to see my family and friends, I love my sweet smiling students so much…but nothing was sticking. Until I offered myself the possibility of a personal day. Not a concrete plan, just the option.

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A little backstory: in January, two of my colleagues in the history department had a little meeting without me and discussed an important topic; my continued full supply of personal and sick days. They’d both realized that I’d never taken a day off and thought it was ridiculous. As veteran teachers with 6 and 13 years experience, they are very protective of this first year baby teacher, a fact I’m endlessly grateful for. So it was no surprise when they both came to me separately and then together to convince me to take a day for myself.

They told me that it’s important to take care of yourself. They lectured me about self care and burnout. I laughed and told them I would consider taking a day in March because that’s the death month with no days off. And then Tuesday happened and I hit the end of my rope.

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Giving myself permission to call out on the subway gave me so much relief that I just continued thinking about it. Eventually, still undecided, I texted my co-teacher and told him there was a chance I’d be out. I wanted to see his response, since he’d be teaching alone the next day if I wasn’t there. He immediately texted back, telling me I deserve it and I need to take care of myself since it was a hard day. There were many emojis, he was excited, it was very sweet.

So I took a personal day and I still got up at five. I spent the day catching up on lessons and doing my homework. I went to therapy in the afternoon and spent the evening drinking tea and spending time with Boyfriend. By seven that evening I felt good, I felt ready for a 7am-10pm day with work and grad school.

And then de Blasio called a snow day. Excellent timing, de Blasio, excellent timing.

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Previous to taking this day off, I’d only taken two days off from work in my life. One for when I was so sick I couldn’t walk without passing out and the other was the day that an ex walked out on me. The idea of taking a personal day just to get my head on straight seemed weak. But my colleagues (and every other veteran teacher I interact with) have taught me just the opposite. Weakness is not listening to yourself, it’s not taking care of yourself. It’s easy to be in the building every day, it’s much harder to be present. And sometimes you have to be absent in order to be present later.

I refuse to feel guilty about this personal day because it was something I needed to do. I needed a reset and re-focus. And the snow day, well, that was just a bonus.

Best of luck.

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8 thoughts on “I Took a Personal Day and I’m Not Sorry

  1. Good for you. I stopped feeling guilty a long time ago for taking personal days (which I lose if I don’t use) or sick days (sometimes for the sake of my mental health). At my last job, I didn’t call out unless I was literally lethargic with the flu. I worked well above my allotted hours. When they cut my (and several others) hours back due to budget cuts, and I was in the middle of a huge creative project, I came in on my day off, with my toddler in tow, and worked for free so I could finish it by the deadline. The result? No meaningful appreciation. I learned then that no one gives a shit one way or the other, and the world won’t end if I’m not there one day, so I might as well use the time to refill my well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely agree, it seems that the only thing that comes from perfect attendance is feeling resentful that no one cares about your perfect attendance. Much better to take a day when necessary instead of working yourself to death. Thank you for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I understand why people who don’t have paid days off (or even unpaid sick/personal days) in their contract, it’s a luxury that not everyone can afford. However, if you do, it’s okay to take them!! For the longest time, I felt absolutely awful taking a sick day- if I wasn’t there, someone was going to have to cover for me (at least for part of my job). As I worked more, I realised that I was just getting everyone else sick and forcing them to make the same decision of “Do I stay home or go in snotty and gross?”. And personal days are as important- mental health needs to be put at the forefront, and all of us (me included) need to recognise that a personal day off doesn’t mean we are weak! GREAT post!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The whole job without leave thing is most of the reason I’m new to sick and personal days. It’s a huge luxury to be able to take a day without losing a day’s pay. Now that I have them though I’m never going to regret taking them, especially when I really need one. Thank you for reading, glad you enjoyed it!

      Like

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