When I came to write this, I thought I would do a quick Google search on apologising for going on holiday to see if anyone else felt the same. This year I will probably rack up nearly 10 weeks away/off, including short breaks, traveling to over 5 countries. This morning I flew off to spend 4 weeks teaching cookery at a Summer Camp just outside New York with my two girls.
For those that don’t know, I run my own business; Push Start Marketing, a small marketing agency made up of three employees (one’s currently in Australia) and three long-term contractors. Between us we complete and manage a wide range of clients and projects. It’s my job to run the business and find new clients as well as marketing consultancy and management of some projects.
I started the business originally as a freelancer looking to work hours that suited being a mother and to take the summer off to go and work in America at the Summer Camp where my husband and I originally met. Summer Camp with my two girls is my raison d'être. It is so important to me because travel was always a major goal in my life, not to travel but to be a traveller; big difference. But circumstances being what they were, this traveller has been fairly anchored to the UK for the past 18 years.
Anyway, back to the internet. I found lots of info on how to go on holiday and not take work with you and how to apologise properly (there are seven steps apparently) but I couldn’t find anything else on being apologetic about being able to take more holiday than those around me. I did however, come across imposter syndrome, the fear of being discovered or feeling unworthy or undeserving and am now thinking this might have a little something to do with my current concerns about time away. You’ll see where I am going with this later.
Perhaps it’s a female thing. A 2010 study by Karina Schumann, a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Waterloo in Ontario revealed that men and women have different thresholds when it comes to apologising, women’s being lower than men’s ‘because they are more concerned with the emotional experiences of others and in promoting harmony in their relationships.’ This I do accept because building lasting relationships is one of the pillars my business is built on.
If I was a teacher, would I feel the same? Do teachers feel the same? Are they are always having to justify their long breaks from school, if so why? Is it jealousy because people believe they have so much more holiday? And does that mean those with 21 days standard holiday allowance (plus bank holidays) are jealous of seemingly ‘excessive’ holidays, I’m not sure I believe that, but it’s a possibility.
From day one of running your own business you’re advised to read books such as Michael Gerber’s The E Myth and Chris Gardener’s The Busyness Delusion so you can build a business that works for you and not the other way around. The point of having your own business is to create the vehicle that enables you to live your life as you want it – so by taking ten weeks off am I not only saying, but proving I am a successful business person by this standard; and if that’s the case why does this make me feel so uncomfortable? AM I suffering from a mild case of imposter syndrome? I don’t feel successful when I compare myself to others, I just feel continual – run, work, home, family, read, sleep, repeat. So does my discomfort stem from imposter syndrome feeling too unworthy to be successful or am I just too modest to own the fact that I have been able to put everything in place, the money, the team, the clients and the planning to enable me to work this way; to get to a place others desire to be? It’s not that I am a millionaire and have a massive team behind me, it’s that I have always worked to a single goal, camp, and the off-shoot of that is a team and clients who know this from day one and a family that prioritises holiday and travel above all else.
Having looked at this in a rambling kind of way (see above) I realise I don’t need to feel apologetic. Of those seven levels of apologies, the first one is seek permission; if I apologise for going away people generally respond with ‘don’t apologise’, ‘lucky you’ or ‘good for you’ so I will discount all the rest as not being needed. What I should feel is pride in what I’ve achieved, whether that’s success or not and appreciate that I have successfully managed my working life to allow me to leave for the summer and spend quality time throughout the year with my family, at home and abroad. I will in fact enjoy it, unapologetically, for as long as I possibly can, because it’s not that I am lucky, it’s that I work hard to achieve my traveller goal and every year I reach it is to be celebrated.