I am not busy right now. Not really.
This is a very weird place to be. For so long, when people asked how I was doing, I would answer, “Oh, you know, busy.” They were busy, too. We bonded over our shared busyness. Wasn’t life just so busy?
Earlier this year, I kept responding “busy,” but then I realized that it was a stone-cold lie. I wasn’t busy at all.
When we moved to Wheaton, I started working part-time from home. When I met a new acquaintance, she asked, “Oh, so you’re working part-time, but I’m sure you’re helping out at the church a lot.” “Nope,” I said. She asked, “Then what do you do?”
The question took me aback. What did I do? I kept myself occupied. I was never bored. But where was my time going?
There was the part-time work. There were other freelance projects. I did spend a chunk of time at church, but no more than your average member. I was spending time with my family, now that I was so much closer to them. I read a lot. I blogged. I took longer to get to places: I walked to the library and rode my bike to Target. Slowly I started picking up other commitments. I now volunteer for eight hours a week at a domestic violence shelter. Andy and I are taking a tap dancing class (YES IT’S TRUE AND GLORIOUS AND I WILL WRITE ABOUT IT IN A FUTURE POST). We’ve had a lot of company. I’ve started working on some writing projects that may or may not amount to anything. Andy and I hang out and talk and watch TV together. We go on walks. We read and drink tea on our porch.
Most of the time this doesn’t add up to “busy.” And you know what? It’s been lovely. I’m getting the recommended amount of sleep. I’m not doing a lot of rushing. I can take time to enjoy things.
But because I am unable to completely enjoy anything, part of me feels guilty about this, and inadequate. I want to reassure you all of my busyness bona fides. I know how to be busy! I can do it! I’ve been really busy in the past! I’ve pulled all nighters! I’m important! But of course busy does not equal important. There have been times in my life where I have been very busy and I look back and I think, why? What did I really accomplish with all that scrambling? Now that I’ve slowed down, I’ve become intentional about where I put my energy.
Part of my new intentionality has been realizing that I’ve been using busyness as a shield to get myself out of unwanted commitments. I have a hard time saying no to people, and it’s much easier to say, “Oh, I would love to, but we’re just so busy,” as opposed to the actual truth of “Thank you for asking me, but I’ve decided not to.” I can say no to things just because I want to say no to them. I don’t have to have a jam-packed schedule before I can legitimately turn something down.
So a lot of good has come out of this slower phase. I know it’s probably not going to last forever, and that’s ok. We’re hoping to have kids, and from what I hear kids create a lot of busyness. And that won’t be bad--part of me misses the rushing. It’s exciting, and I’m more efficient when I’m attempting to pack a lot of stuff in. I know a lot of you are busy because you are doing super important things. And that’s great!
I just hope I can enjoy this phase to the fullest, and when it ends I hope I can take the good things I’ve learned. And no matter what my actual busyness level, I want to do my best not to tie my self worth to it. Because really it’s not important how busy or not busy you are. If you’re doing the stuff you need to be doing, then that is enough. And when that stuff includes tap dancing class, then that is more than enough.