One of my favorite things to gain perspective on is ‘busy-ness.’ And so even though I’ve talked about it here before, I’m going to do it again. And I can do that, because I’m The Thinker.
But do you know what I’m talking about? The answer to 90% of the questions you ask people:
How are you doing?
Oh I’m so busy!
How’s the family?
We’re just so busy!
How’s your mom?
She’s keeping busy.
That last one makes me laugh a little. It’s funny to me to think that heaven forbid someone think my mom is sitting around enjoying her life. NO WAY! For the love of all that is Holy, that woman is keeping herself in a tizzy in her retirement, and don’t you think anything different!!
What is that about?
Fun fact: I asked someone a paragraph long question yesterday and when I checked in with her as to why she hadn’t gotten back to me, her response was: sorry so busy
No capitals. No period. Too busy!
It got me thinking about the whole picture of this thing we call life… and it made me wonder for the millionth time: What’s it all for? What are we even doing with all this busy-ness we’re all up to? It’s certainly very important, I’ll tell you that much.
But since you asked, I’m going to tell you what I really think… (watch out!)
I think it’s an excuse. I think it’s a shield. I really do. Do you remember when you were in college and every time one of your mom’s friends asked you how things were going, you had this really great answer about what year you were in school and what classes you were taking. Man, things were so easy then. But if you’re anything like me, when you stepped out after college graduation and entered into the ‘real world,’ suddenly you felt as lost as a shoe under the bleachers. Those were dire times, I tell you! That first Christmas just didn’t feel the same for me. When my mom’s friends asked about what I was up to, I stumbled over my words and tried to come up with something important to say about the nanny job that the $40,000 a year tuition bought me.
But I learned very quickly that when I didn’t want to answer, or when I didn’t know what to say, or when I just wasn’t feeling passionate about the real answers to those questions, I would talk about how busy I was. It was vague, and it made me feel super important because it shielded me from all the real feelings of being lost, stressed and fearful.
How are things going?
Instead of: I’m feeling lost and stressed and I kind of don’t know what I’m doing with my life….
I went with: I’m keeping busy. I work a lot and spend time with my friends!
Do you want to come to the girls night I’m having at my house?
Instead of: I can’t afford it! I know you guys are going out to dinner and it’s just not in my budget. Plus I’m way too shy and I don’t know if I’ll know anyone.
I went with: Oh my gosh, I’d love to but I’m just so busy this week! Maybe next time?
Sometimes, if we’re really creative, we can get literal!
“I literally don’t have time to think.”
Here’s the deal guys… I want to invite you out of this habit. I actually had to break the habit of my autopilot response to things and consider… why do I want to answer this question with ‘busy?’ What am I hiding from, and what am I avoiding? What is the real answer?
It started, for me, with answering questions intentionally omitting ANYTHING having to do with being busy. Here is an example:
How are you?
I’m really good!
Just that. I had to start there. But now, I’m pretty well practiced in never hiding behind busy, which has allowed me to answer more honestly and be more vulnerable and honest when I need to be, which is so funny, because it connects me to people. Busy- that word- it’s a disconnector. It literally creates feelings of stress in both parties. What visual images do you picture when you think of the word busy? Try it! Does it promote feelings of calm, or feelings of anxiety?
It also promotes feelings of separation. When I say I’m busy, it can imply that the person I’m talking to is not busy by contrast. It also can imply that this busy-ness means something of importance to me, and I wonder if that is a place we really want to be putting value in our lives? In filling all the time up?
It’s all just very fascinating food for thought, don’t you think? There is a brilliant concept I resurfaced from a blog years ago in my most recent guest blog post at Impact Women and I wanted to share it here. Its the idea of being a honeybee or a mosquito. Both are very busy… but one is productive, charitable and purposed… whereas the other… is just sucking the life out of you.
Read more here.