I came across this quote a couple of weeks ago while I was scouring Google for something meaningful to add to my Instagram story (as opposed to the usual Millie-spam). Ironically, since then I’ve been too busy to write anything about it, but I stored it up in my brain for a future blog post. Now I have arrived in the future and have a relatively free Sunday on which to turn my attention to my recently-neglected blog.
The idea of having a relatively free Sunday really scares me. I know that sounds ridiculous, and in theory I look forward to the weekend all week, imaging myself feeling chilled, perhaps snuggled up with a book or in front of a film. In reality, when I see a day, or even an afternoon, stretching ahead of me without any plans or tasks to fill my time, I panic.
There are probably a number of reasons for this, but one of them is that I definitely do glorify busyness, placing a lot of my self-worth on how much I’ve got going on. If I’m not constantly ‘doing’, then clearly my life isn’t ‘good’ enough and I’m not making the most of my twenties. I hate feeling lazy, and somehow think that laziness is this inherently bad thing that makes the culprit a bad person. If I’ve got free time then surely I should be filling it, otherwise it’s a waste and I’m a failure. Also, if I’m busy, then I don’t have to face up to any negative thoughts or feelings that may be whizzing around my head, frantically being suppressed almost before I can identify them.
For me, being busy is an avoidance technique. When I’m rushing around like a headless chicken, I don’t have time to stop and assess what’s going on in my head. Of course, it’s not helpful to be constantly self-analysing and overthinking, but every now and then it’s good to check in. That way, when you do finally stop, you won’t be overwhelmed by all the emotions you’ve been bottling up for the past week/month.
It’s tricky to find the balance, because I don’t want to end up sitting in front of the TV every night, which is nice in moderation, but isn’t something I’d want to do all the time. What I really want is to be okay with doing nothing, with waking up on a Sunday with no plans and not be filled with dread.
This last week at work I have been particularly busy, working flat out all day every day to get the January issue of the magazine to press before the deadline next week. I also had something on every evening, having made plans to ensure that every minute was accounted for. I’m tired, but I loved it, and I also enjoyed telling people how busy I was when they asked how work was going. I was the same at uni, rushing from a 6am gym session to the library for 9am, then to lectures, followed by the library again and then maybe a night out. There’s only so long you can go on for like that. One day you’ll eventually burn out.
So, what should I do about it? Honestly, I don’t know, but I think that being aware of it is a good start, as hopefully that will mean that I’ll never let myself get to the point of burnout ever again. Today I had the longest lie in that I think I’ve ever had in my life and for the rest of the day I’ve had to deal with the guilt of feeling ‘lazy’ because of it. But I’ve managed it, and it’s been a fairly chilled day, just pottering around and watching my Dad busy himself with sorting out all the Christmas decorations. I need to make sure I have days like this, where my diary is empty (except for church) and I’m not rushing from one place to the next. I think I should take a leaf out of Millie’s book, as being a cat seems to involve moving from one cosy sleeping position to the other, sometimes rising from your slumber for a bit of food. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to ‘stop the glorification of busy’, but perhaps I’ll learn to glorify my down-time in the same way, which is definitely better than nothing.