You might think that my first freak-out moment of my sabbatical had to do with money. Think again. You might think the freak-out moment happened a few weeks or months into my sabbatical. Nope. The story of my first freak-out is an example of how much I needed this time for me and also how badly I needed to change my patterns.

I had my first freak-out on Monday, November 24, on my first official day of unemployment and the very start of my sabbatical. That day, I woke up and immediately picked up my phone to check my calendar for the day, since this was part of my daily routien. My calendar was BLANK. There was nothing scheduled for the day. It wasn’t an error in the app either. The calendar had zero entries on it. That’s when I freaked out.

I was standing in my kitchen, still in my pajamas, and the panic set in. Here’s a snippet of what was going through my head:

“Well, if I don’t have things on my calendar to accomplish for the day, then what is my purpose? What am I supposed to contribute each day? What will I accomplish? What the heck do I do? Wow, free time. What do people do with this? I guess I could go do one of my hobbies. Wait, what are my hobbies again? Holy shit, WHAT THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO TODAY?!”

The First Freak-Out Moment of My Sabbatical

Isn’t that sad? I was so reliant on my calendar that I couldn’t even appreciate the free time I had given myself. Hobbies? I had forgotten what my hobbies were! I remember my boyfriend saying to me, “It’s a good thing you’re going to Bali in a few days.” Yes, because this freak-out moment was just pathetic.

Looking back on that moment, I see a scared Jenny who was counting on meetings and calls and projects to fill up her day to make her feel important. When all of that went away, I was scared to discover myself again, and that’s truly where the panic came from.

Today, I have things I want to accomplish during the day, but I’m not nearly as reliant on my calendar. I’m more open to whatever the day brings me. When I get up in the morning, I do NOT check my phone right away. In fact, I don’t even sleep next to my phone anymore. When I see that my calendar is blank for the day, I welcome that and smile! On those days (and most days now), I listen to my heart and what it wants to do. Usually, it wants to work out, go outside, read or cook a healthy meal. Hobbies. I’ve found them again, and I found myself again, too.


*This post is part of a 30-day series called “Getting Unstuck” in which I’m trying to figure out my next professional step by getting out of my comfort zone and taking on various challenges. Follow along by subscribing to my weekly email list here