Hey. Next time you try to meet with a friend and they don’t have time, don’t be so quick to lay into them with Wow! You’re always soo busy. Ok?
Being busy has become a thing that no one is supposed to be any more, as the righteous and privileged of the world are all too eager to point out. But some people don’t have that luxury. And others aren’t even that busy, they just don’t want to hang out with you.
Four years ago my life was bonkers. I had a full time job that kept me busy much more than 40 hours a week. I had a volunteer commitment I was passionate about, but required at least another 10 hours of my time on a weekly basis. I maintained very close relationships with 4 different groups of friends, many of those individuals I made a point of seeing once or twice each week. If someone called and wanted me to volunteer for something, have a drink, go for a walk, come over for dinner, anything really, I would say yes. I never said no to anyone and was constantly rearranging my schedule to make time for everything. And to be honest, there were aspects to this lifestyle that I loved.
However, my house was a glorified storage unit, as I was never there. I regularly had wine for dinner and rarely cooked anything healthy–I had no time. I never exercised and I pretty much didn’t sleep. I was so unhealthy. That lifestyle was in no way sustainable. But here’s the thing. No one ever accused me of being too busy. Ever.
These days I make a conscious effort to keep an open schedule. I limit my extracurriculars to 1-2 nights during the “school” week, and maybe 1 or 2 more on weekends. I make time for being healthy, for running and hiking and just being outside. I spend time alone, with my partner and nurture a few close friendships with visits on a weekly or monthly basis. I cook healthy food. I sleep. There are a few people and activities that I don’t get to with enough regularity, but I will. And they understand.
My life is so much healthier now, it’s better in every way. Better, except for one thing. I am regularly told that I am too busy. The irony. As soon as I actively began not being busy, that is exactly what people started accusing me of being. It’s infuriating really. I’ve made a commitment to myself to no longer overbook, overextend, overcommit. And now when I saw no, I am now faced with You’re always way too busy!
I’m not busy, I’ve just changed my priorities.
Calling someone out on being too busy has become an insult these days, a passive aggressive accusation that they don’t have the time to be present, to stop and smell the roses, to spend time with the accuser. While this may be true for some people, it is definitely not true for everyone being called the dreaded b-word. Some people don’t have the luxury of having a spacious schedule–they have to work two jobs and go to school and care for children or parents and all those other things that can take over a life. And others would just rather go to bed at 10pm on a Tuesday than take you up on your offer to see your boyfriend’s cousin’s band.
Understanding another person’s changing priorities can be hard. I get that, I do. But it doesn’t mean they have bought into the “cult of busy” or fallen into the “busy trap” or whatever the latest catch phrase coined by The Atlantic is. Maybe that makes a person boring, but it certainly doesn’t make them busy. So lay off, ok?