Do you want to know the number one response I have for when people ask me “how have you been?!” I open my mouth, raise my eyebrows, roll my eyes a little – all in feign shock and desperation – and sigh dramatically “oh my god, SO busy” like the OTT arsehole that I can be. I’m embarrassed to admit it. It’s cringe. But it’s true. Because I am busy. And to be honest, 99% of the people I say this too reply with “ME TOO!”
But why do I say it like it’s a good thing? As if I’m proud of it? I’m grateful that I’m busy because it means that I’ve got a lot of work, which means I’m earning money and it means that I wont get evicted from my flat. Hip hip hurray. But it’s all so much admin (and you know how I feel about the incessant drain of life admin)
But we seem to think that being busy means that you’re important.
Being busy means that you’re in demand.
Being busy reflects your worth.
Being busy means you’re an amazingly accomplished multi-tasker
Being busy is a badge used to legitimise and validate everything. Of course I haven’t bought a house yet because I’m too busy, of course I’m not married with a baby, I’m too busy! (Those last two are definitely my own excuses, anyway)
Whereas in the reality of it all, being busy means that my skincare routine is suffering, I’m getting lazy and stress-related breakouts, my memory is overloaded and on a constant go-slow that it takes me around 20.2 seconds to remember what day it is, I’ve eaten the same boring meal every night this week because it’s easy to make, dry shampoo is basically the only beauty product in my routine right now and I’m so overdue a pedicure that I’ve become the Guinness Book Of World Records number 2 contender for worlds longest toenails. EW, right?!
Only joking about the last part.
Not only am I neglecting myself and my personal hygiene (someone add write a thank you note for the CEO of Batiste to my very very busy to-do list) but I’m I started neglecting my relationships. Cancelling plans with friends for deadlines, and I think I’ve made my boyfriend feel like he’s a goldfish I won in a bag at a carnival, letting him get all dirty in his tank with his sea castle and fake plants and sort of forgetting he’s there. I feel terrible. And it’s exhausting. I’m tired all the time because my mind is constantly switched on. I’m so tired I can’t even think of decent analogies to describe my boyfriend that I’m comparing him to a FISH!
Truth is, my busyness is actually a little bit bullshit – and it’s a bit of a humblebrag too. And I’ve already written about my hate of humblebragging so that just makes me a tad hypocritical. Talking to my dad on the phone about it a few weeks ago, I was having a moan about how I had no time for myself to just relax and he said quite frankly “you need to get better at time management” I was like excuse me? I got better at time management in an instant and hung up on him.
But he’s actually on to something. It drew attention to the fact that I faff about a lot. I’ll dick about on my phone for 20 minutes before even getting out of bed and on Friday, my tracking app told me I picked up my phone 228 (in fairness, I was OOO and required to do a lot of work from my phone but still). I never really consider how long things will actually take, blocking out less time for them mentally and then getting wound up when I’m rushing around town like a crazy woman.
A lot of it comes down to self-imposed pressure. I choose to be busy. When you’re self-employed, it’s even worse. If you get out what you put in, I’m going to be shoving as much as I can into my waking hours to maximise my time. Whenever I sit down to chill the fuck out I have that niggling sense of guilt that I’m not maximising every damn second on building a career or working towards something.
But then I get tired, grumpy, lie about in bed and burn out. I get stressed when my diary is empty (I’m a failure! I’m not important!) and I get stressed when my diary is full (omg too much work!) – I’m sure there’s a balance I need to be hitting somewhere.
Busyness isn’t a badge of honour to pin on to your clothes for all to see how great you are, it’s a pain in the arse that’ll show through your deep, dark, vampiric eyebags and inability to hold a decent conversation. So, to any of my real life friends out there, don’t listen to me if I tell you I’m busy. Call me out on it.
And to any of you guys out there who are too busy…
Take. A. Day. Off.
Photography by Rebecca Spencer