How Did I Get So Busy Anyway?
This is a hard question to answer isn't it? It's such a multi-layered onion. But that's what we're here for so let's start peeling.
The first layer I think is because in our society and culture it's so accepted that life is busy, especially these days with so many ways to be accessible and switched on. The pressure to keep up, have it all and then upgrade it..it's all too much and all too familiar.
Then there's this weird guilt around saying no, especially to the people we love.
Have you ever been invited to something on your only day off and you'd really rather stay home so you can chill and maybe get organised for the coming week - but you say yes and go anyway because, um, technically you don't have anything on, so you can't say no?
Women especially have trouble saying no in these situations; we're raised to put others first. But when you say yes to things, you're still saying no to something. And it's usually yourself.
This can be made trickier because maybe you do actually want to go...but it means the things you had planned to do in that precious down time (meal prep, chill..it doesn't matter) will have to be pushed back or forgotten. Which only perpetuates the cycle of feeling busy and overwhelmed, pushing you further out of the present moment.
The irony is, you go along to whatever it is and you aren't really engaged in the conversation. Said person can sense that your energy is off, takes it personally and feels like you don't care or don't want to be there. Maybe you apologise for your mood, maybe you don't realise that they've picked up on it. Whatever the case, by staying home and taking care of a few of your own personal needs, you'd have been doing everyone a favour, including your relationship with that person!
Everyone around you benefits when you prioritise your needs. Sounds cliche but it's true! It also sounds a little selfish but if you really think about it, it's quite the opposite.
Ok so the next layer of the onion - actually, onion is the wrong analogy, the layers all blend into each other so let's say rainbow swirl cake instead - is the personal experiences and beliefs you've applied to your life to create your reasons for being busy. I think this is best illustrated with a personal story.
When I was a kid I lived with my mum, who has mental health struggles and therefore was fairly inconsistent and unpredictable. After a traumatic incident when I was 12, I went to live with my dad and had no contact with my mum for ages. The next few years were, as you can imagine, blurry, scary and sometimes even more confusing than before. Don't get me wrong, I loved living with my dad and eventually settled into my new life.
However, because of those experiences, I developed some coping mechanisms. I realised when I was thinking about something else, I was distracted from my sad thoughts. So I threw myself into being busy. School, reading and learning and as I got older, a part time job, parties and boyfriends. Deep down, I also felt I had something to prove.
When I finished high school, I moved out, got a full-time job and started studying. At one point I was working 7 days a week at 3 different jobs and also doing a full-time degree at uni. It was crazy. I had this really strong belief that if I just applied myself, worked really hard and learned all.the.things, I would eventually outrun my sadness and finally, find happiness.
In some ways, it worked. In other ways, it just delayed the pain until I was strong enough to face it, process it and move on.
Maybe you can relate in some way to this story. Maybe you have a different catalyst for being busy. I think we all have things we're not really ready to process so we create busy schedules for ourselves to avoid dealing with them. That often works really well, until it doesn't!
There are so many other reasons we get so busy. Some are really straightforward and others more complex. In a world of competing priorities, with constant messages of do this, buy that, own xyz and then you'll be happy/fulfilled/better/acceptable thrust on us, it's no wonder we feel stretched thin and unsure of what really deserves our attention.
I realise this specific post holds no answers to the problem of busy. We're conditioned to look for the quick fix. Tell me what to do so I can move onto the next thing. I believe the answers lie within us and the antidote is to slow down.
Tomorrow there will be tips! (Sort of).
PS if you liked this post and want to read more, check back tomorrow for the next instalment or leave your details in the box below to get the email update. This post is part of a 30-day project called #slowdowninseptember. You can join in the conversation on Instagram, I'd LOVE to hear from you!