Tonight I was cruising around on Pinterest because hey! I’m a boring 30-something mom and that’s what I do when I can’t sleep. Which, by the way, is every night, meaning that I’ve developed a bit of a Pinterest habit, among other things (my insomnia-beating arsenal includes such soothing activities as: watching documentaries on BBC earth, hate-reading the blogs of conservative white dudes, and commenting things on there, and sending late night emails to my clients. Anyway, I was happily scrolling through pictures of pretty landscapes, cute little DIY projects and motivational crap (example: a gorgeous mountain at sunset with DON’T GIVE UP, THE BEST IS YET TO COME scrawled across it in white letters) when I came across this:
“STOP THE GLORIFICATION OF BUSY!”
I had one of those moments where I was like, “oh.” And then I was like, “yes.” And then I had this huge mishmash of complicated feelings that I’ve been trying to untangle ever since. (And that was at 8:30pm)
Busy is how I keep myself from having enough time to think the thoughts that might completely derail my day..
Busy is how I distract my mind from the refrain of you’re not good enough, you’re not trying hard enough, you better make it in life because juffrou Venter said you won’t, admit all the traumatic things that happened the past 10 years.
Busy is word that I hold over my head like some goddamn Samurai sword, as in: you’re not busy enough, you should be doing more, you don’t deserve a break, just keep going.
Busy is the first thing I think of when I wake up – will I be busy enough today? Will I get enough done? Or will I be a failure? Will I accomplish my set tasks?
Busy is the last thing I think about before I finally drift off into a sleeping-pill-induced sleep – have I been busy enough? Am I satisfied with my day? Or have I been a disappointment, both to myself and to the people around me?
Busy is my anxiety-charged brain, either leapfrogging from one thought to the next, stringing together conclusions so quickly that I can hardly breathe, or else fixating on one idea and spinning it over and over, like a cut on your finger you can’t stop touching.
The glorification of busy is the reason that I struggle so hard to relax – because I’ve never feel really, truly been busy enough during the day to deserve a rest. I sometimes ask myself what “busy enough” would look like, and I can never seem to come up with a solid answer. I tell myself that “busy enough” or “accomplished enough” is just something that I would intuitively feel once I’ve reached that goal post. But I never feel it, so I always have to assume that it’s just another day of not doing enough.
The glorification of busy is why I’m sitting here in my living room, writing a blog post because I feel like I just haven’t satisfied my daily requirement of “getting shit done.” Never mind that I’m supposed to be in bed already. I tried that. It didn’t feel good; instead, it felt like I was wasting precious time during which I could have been doing something important, like maybe memorizing the periodic table. (And we know that will never happen!)
We live in a culture that praises “busy” as the best thing a person can be – both in terms of employment and personal life. We’re encouraged to cram as many experiences and events and accomplishments into a 24 hour period as possible – and then we’re encouraged to share our interpretation of those experiences, via Instagram pictures and Facebook updates, in as close to real-time as possible. Even when you’re relaxing or having fun, you’re still often tapping into that busy mindset. “Am I sufficiently relaxed? Should I be having more fun? What can I do to optimize this experience? If I’m not feeling good, is that because I’m just not trying hard enough?”
And while I would on the one hand argue that staying busy is sometimes what stops me from having a full on meltdown in the middle of the day, I would also say that living in a culture that promotes “busy” as the ideal has for sure shaped my ideas of how to handle the sick panic of repetitive thoughts or sharp flashes of fear that set fire to my nerves. If I didn’t live in a society that glorifies busy, would my response to anxiety be to immediately throw myself into some type or work or another? If I didn’t think that busy was the be-all-and-end-all would I maybe take a few deep breaths and try to slow my thoughts instead of crushing them with other, different, faster thoughts?
I’m done being busy.
Im done with the fact that I crave busy as a way to block out all the other crap that’s going on in my head.
I am done working 12 hours a day and 3 different jobs.
I’m done being on our community RA.
I’m done with politics.
I am tired of the impact that busy has had on my ability to zone out, to shift gears, to slow down and enjoy myself.
To hell with updating statuses about how much fun I’m having when all I can think about is what I’m doing next, and then next, and then next.
I am divorcing the sense of dread that I have when faced with a day full of empty, unplanned hours.
Fuck the feeling of inadequacy that the glorification of busy has left me with.
I just want to learn how to shut off the busy voice in my head for five minutes. I just want to know what quiet is like. I just want to close my eyes at the end of the day and sleep without having to Pinterest myself into an exhausted state.
I am setting myself free.