There is a man who sits behind me at work and loves to tell us all about how busy he is. We’re not completely sure what he even does all day (and night) but he’s “busy” enough that he cannot eat food, go outside, make phone calls, return emails, enjoy sunshine, drink tea or anything else that one might associate with living a relatively normal life. He is BUSY. He uses “busy” as an excuse not to live his life. He also uses it as some sort of superhero martyr cape so that we will all feel badly for him while respecting the shit out of him for giving up his life and instead just being….well….busy.
For some reason today it got me to thinking about that awful little four letter word; B-U-S-Y. We all use it and I somehow think that we use it to the exclusion of other words or concepts. We say we’re busy when in fact we’re tired and just want to sit down. We say we’re busy when in fact it’s just the pace of modern life. We say we’re busy when we don’t want to do things or go places. We say we’re busy so that people think that we’re doing important things and living full lives.
As part of My Passion Experiment in April, I refuse to be “busy”. I refuse to use the word or embrace the concept and I refuse to use any of its aliases either (swamped, buried, crazy, hectic). Instead of “busy”, I’m going to actually speak the truth, let me practice.
Scenario: I have been invited to an event
Old way: Oh, we would love to be able to go but we’re busy.
Truthful Way: Thank you so much for the invitation but I’m going to pass. Have fun though.
Truthful Way (option B): Thank you so much for the invitation but we’re already doing something that night.
Scenario: See group of friends after absence who ask “Where have you been?!”
Old Way: Ach, I know, I’ve been absolutely swamped lately, my life is running at 100 miles an hour!
New Way: Oh hey! Good to see you! (people generally will not come back and ask the same question a second time)
Scenario: How’ve you been/What have you been up to?
Old Way: Good, so busy though.
New Way: Pretty good. My life is full so I always have something to do or look forward to!
The thing is, we are all busy. Every moment. There is always some draw on our time. Someone wants something or something needs to be cooked or there’s the gym or your hobby or your family. There’s bills to pay and jobs to go to and alone time to squeeze out. We are all busy. I wonder sometimes, if someone asked how it was going and I answered truthfully, would I be less of a “valid” woman? “It’s going really well! I mostly only do the things that I want to do, I fill the majority of my time with things I care about and surround myself with people I care about.” Does that devalue my contribution to society or my life? Do I gain more respect by saying, “Ach, I’m so busy, I barely have time to brush my teeth in the morning before I have to bolt! I work X-# hours a day and then try to find time to squeeze in exercise before making dinner. Husband and I only see each other for a couple of hours in the evening and then I crash into bed completely exhausted!”
When I was writing both of these statements, I actually had the same scenario in my mind for both of them. In reading them back to myself, the first one seems really “self” centered (not self-centered) and calm and positive and on purpose and in control and the second one seems really manic and depressing and anxious and out of control. It also strikes me as odd (being the one who is writing this, even!) that the second one has a more “important” feel to it. Like the woman in the second one is important and hurried and no nonsense. She’s the polar opposite to the first woman who appears to be kind of laid back and not in too much of a rush to do anything. And yet they are the same woman. One version has a grateful, gracious, truthful and relaxed understanding of her life and the other version is trapped in the “busy” paradigm. One version is owning her decisions and how she chooses to direct her life and the other is more blamey and reactive.
It’s my perception that the first one will come off as dismissible and the second one will come off as more relatable. The first one seems almost….maybe dumb? And the second one comes off as smart and quick and on-fire. Since I’ve already stated that they are both living the exact same life, why is that? Why do we not have more value for Woman A and more pity for Woman B?
There’s not a huge finishing point to this post….mostly because I don’t have an answer as to why we women value the negative side of a “flat out, can’t stop, every second accounted for” mentality more than we do the expressing of enjoyment and triumph that we have these beautiful lives to live. I do live flat out (because I have lived a half a life and it was awful) and I can’t stop (coffin, anyone?) and every second of my day is accounted for (don’t most people know what’s coming from hour to hour?).
I have a full life but I am not busy.