Did you catch Sydney’s post on The Daybook last week about being “busy”? Alyson blogged about it over the weekend, and as both these ladies brought up, here’s a question: how often, when you’re asked how you’ve been, do you tell the person, “Good — but busy.” I do. Like probably 95% of the time.
After reading these two posts, and reflecting on why that might be, I came up with two answers: 1) just like Sydney mentioned, it has to do with the cultural equation that busy = successful and thriving, and 2), that sometimes, even when things aren’t good or whether or not they are busy, I say such a standard response in order to normalize a situation and deflect attention from myself. It’s much easier to give some vague answer about my mental and physical state, because it means I don’t have to talk about how things really are (even when they’re great!). If things are rough, I don’t want to seem like I’m complaining, and if they’re good, I don’t want it to seem like I’m gloating. But I wonder sometimes if normalizing the response with a “Good-but-busy” inhibits us from really connecting with our friends and family, so that they can truly understand and share in our ups and our downs. Sometimes, in my quest to appear like I’ve got it all together, I can be unwilling to show any kind of vulnerability. But, hello, we are all vulnerable, and more importantly, isn’t our ability to share these experiences with our friends a lot of what life is all about?
There’s a second piece to this that’s probably long enough for another blog post, but I’ll go for it anyway. It’s late at night as I write this. My fiance has been passed out on the couch next to me for the better part of 3 hours, and I’ve wished we could trade places for at least 2 of them. But between cleaning up dinner, working on wedding invitations, responding to emails, and then blogging, there’s been no rest for the weary around here. I AM busy. I know a lot of you are too. I’ve been thinking — why do I do this to myself? We already face the constant struggle of trying to find balance in our lives, and even when we know we need to slow down and take time for ourselves, we still keep adding to our plates. I think for me this behavior stems from my fear of saying no and disappointing people. It’s in the same vein (or the same chronic syndrome, if you will) of saying “Good, but busy” in order to not really share parts of our lives — we don’t put ourselves first.
My homework for myself (feel free to join!): For the rest of the week, I’m going to take the word ‘busy’ out of my vocabulary, just to see if it allows me to have a more honest conversation with my friends, and also, as a check. If I really feel that overwhelmed and busy, maybe I need to shuffle some things around and re-prioritize different parts of my life! :)
So, how often are you “Good, but busy,” and how often do you think it’s an overly vague or inaccurate description of your current state of affairs?