Once again, I forgot to write my every-21st-of-the-month post on the actual 21st of the month.  However, the forgetting is fitting.  You see, at this point in my year off, I’ve officially become something I never thought I’d be–laid back.

Month seven marks the halfway point in my year, as it’s really more of a fourteen-month-break than a year-long break.  And honestly, at this point, I do feel completely different than I did when I walked out of my classroom last June.  It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what has changed, but it can be pretty accurately summed up with this sentiment:  I just don’t care as much anymore.

I don’t care what people think.  I don’t care how much I get done.  I don’t care that everything isn’t perfect and wonderful and organized.  I don’t care that there are crumbs on my cutting board or dust bunnies under my couch.  I don’t care that I’m not losing weight as quickly as I’d planned, that my hair is frizzy, or that my boots don’t match my bag.  I don’t care that I’m leaving on a trip in two days and I haven’t packed anything.  It’s fine.  It will all get done.  Or it won’t.  Whatever.

I sincerely hope that I can carry this new ‘eh…’ attitude back into the classroom with me next September.  I truly believe that, for a long time, I just cared too damn much about everything.  And it was stressing me the hell out.  I wouldn’t even write the word hell or the word damn in a blog post, for fear it would be offensive to someone somewhere.  Seven months later, I can honestly say–fuck that.

The best part about not caring about stupid shit (I’m on a cursing roll, apparently) is that I now have time to care about the shit that really matters.  I’ve been oddly busy for the past month, and not entirely because of the holiday season.  Lately I’ve been more social than I have been in years.  More than that, I’ve been social with people not associated with my job–which is a kind of social I’ve not experienced since I started teaching eight years ago.  All of a sudden, I have friends again.  I have far away friends and virtual friends and real-life friends and past-and-future coworker friends.  And I care about all of those friends more than I care about the coffee rings on my counter top.

It’s strange.  As people grow older and ‘mature’–in quotes for a very good reason–they tend to see their social circles shrink.  In high school and college, you may have had dozens of friends.  But over the years, as your life became more complicated, you slowly allowed those people to slip out of your life.  After all, you were too busy.  Buying houses, getting married, starting families–all of those things take up time, and that time had to come from somewhere.  So you gave up your friends when you became a grown-up.

This, dear reader, was a grave error.  You see, what I’ve come to realize in the clarity of my suddenly-not-busy life is that friends matter.  And you need them even more as an adult than you did as a child.  Life is harder now.  All the more reason to have someone–or, ideally, many someones–to laugh with.  Or drink with.  Or cry with.

Speaking of friends, this coming month is going to present some opportunities to not only make some new friends, but to spend time with existing ones.  I’m leaving in 48 hours for a solo New Orleans slash cruise trip that’s turning out to be not-so-solo, considering I already have multiple dinner plans with several friends-to-be.  And one month from right now I’ll be flying back to Orlando to spend a week in the happiest place on earth with one of my favorite long-distance friends.  With all of this camaraderie, career break month eight is shaping up nicely.  Stay tuned.

Now…to start on the packing…and the cleaning…and the wiping up of coffee rings.  Or not.  Whatever.