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When Did My Free Time Activities Become So Stressful?

They were insistent about how I should spend my free time.

“Are you watching Big Little Lies? It’s great—you have to watch it.”

Yeah, add it to the growing to-do list of television series I will never get to: House of Cards, The Americans, The Crown, Stranger Things, Transparent, The Good Wife, Grace and Frankie.

Who has this much time?

My attitude changed while vacationing in Boston last week, when my sister told me she wanted to watch Big Little Lies. We often read the same books, and, after all, this was a book first. We never get to watch shows together, though. What a treat.

Episode one starts with a murder. By episode two, it became apparent the producers were divulging neither murderer nor victim until much later in the series. We watched every episode unfold, culminating in Episode Seven, the finale.

Everywhere I went, people were talking about the series.

“Do you think the season will end with us finding out who the murderer is, or will that pick up next season?”

And that’s when I heard the music to my ears: “No, I read the book, and did some Googling.  This is a mini-series—it ends with episode seven. That’s it. Done.”

Can I get an “amen”?

I can be done with something I recently started? Over? No episodes hanging over my head? I’m feeling lighter already.

It may seem ridiculous, but unwatched episodes weigh on me like an end-of-term English composition assignment.

Gilmore Girls? Yep, still in season three—you heard me right.

Orange Is The New Black? Finished the last season, but there is a new season coming—Lord knows when, but probably too soon.

How about the many books on my nightstand? On Beauty—page 76.  Haven’t picked that one up in months. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh—page 101. Started this one when the above-mentioned novel didn’t keep my attention and felt like a homework assignment.

The New York Times from last weekend—Style, Business, and Travel? Yep, still by my bedside in a pile on the floor.

I am thinking about going back to toddler books like Moo Baa La La La just so I can feel like I’ve actually finished something.

It seems there is no end to anything—work, carpools, paying bills, home repairs, planning meals, doctor’s appointments. It all just keeps going, and going, and—say it with me—going.

We all know this about chores, but when did my free time activities become so stressful? I thought leisure time was when you gave yourself specific permission not to finish something—unless, of course, it’s happy hour.

Want to read more from Steph? Here's another article:

Then, and only then, I am all about completion.  After all, I do have some standards to uphold.

Stephanie Schaeffer Silverman is publisher of Your Teen Magazine.

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