I have a confession: I’m one of those annoying people that loves being busy and loathes idle time, yet, I often will vent about how stressed I am or how tired I am. Then, the moment I have a shred of downtime, I am going crazy! It’s a sickness, really.
In preparation for this post, I pulled up Google and typed in “busyness quotes”. With that pops up a variety of quotes. Some of them are “pro-busyness” while others are discouraging it. Some are discouraging busyness while others are saying “get out there and be busy!” Yeah, I know. That doesn’t help my blog post much.
As an speech-language pathologist (SLP), my work life is insanely busy. I work for a private clinic and with that comes a lot of work outside of actual therapy. We have documentation, contacting other medical professionals, research. I’m one of those crazies that stacks her schedule so that it’s nonstop. So yes, a good amount of my busyness is self-inflicted. I’m aware.
I’m going to refer to my church again because, well, I love it and I love the people in it. Two Sundays ago we talked about how we are “thirsty” souls and are seeking for our thirst to be quenched. Our pastor, John, prompted us with quite a few thinking points, two of them being “ask God to show me what my thirst is” and “ask God to show where I’m looking to satisfy my deepest longings”. Basically, where are you thirsty and how do you attempt to satisfy that thirst? I took this to mean, when I start to feel crappy, what’s my vice?
We all have vices. Some of them may be “healthier” while others may be described as self-destructive. Either way, we all have them. One of mine is busyness. When I first moved to North Carolina and was overwhelmed by leaving home, moving some place totally different, starting a new career, and trying to help fix a struggling relationship, I threw myself into more things. That makes sense, right? I began to volunteer with the kids ministry at church. I took on more work. I was constantly trying to find ways in the community in which I could volunteer my time. I spread myself way too thin, like I always do. I don’t know if this has always been a vice, but I know I can pinpoint where it really became something I rely on.
When I was 20, I lost my mom to cancer. We took some time as a family to heal and grieve but once we got back, I threw myself back into volleyball. We had the regional tournament in Hawaii quickly approaching and I needed to be ready, both emotionally and physically. After that, I feel as though I started to crave busyness. I yearned for productivity. Being alone and idle was a scary thing for me. Those were the moments in which sadness crept and grief tapped my shoulder. Since that time in my life, busyness has been one of the ways in which I cope with things I may not want to face head on. For me, to be busy is to be consumed just enough that I don’t have the time to sit in my feelings. That was another thinking point my pastor stated: “Ask God to help me identify where I’m disconnected from my feelings/soul.” Now, I don’t think I’m necessarily disconnected from grief, sadness, or disappointment, I just think I sweep them under the rug because it’s inconvenient. So on a busy day when the old familiar friend, grief, decides to come over and talk about the good ol’ days, I keep it out. Unfortunately, this coping mechanism isn’t used just for grief. I use it whenever I get the chance.
You know what’s fun? The result of this is a massive meltdown. We are talking nuclear meltdown. You know those toddlers that you pass by in the grocery store that are crying and stomping their feet because mom wouldn’t let them get a candy bar or a toy they wanted? Yep, that’s me. I am that toddler. I throw fits and in the moment feel as though they’re completely warranted and rational, then look back and think, huh, yeah, that was dumb. Believe me, if it was socially appropriate for a 26-year-old woman to throw herself on the floor and have a full on tantrum, I’d do it. Admit it, you would too.
If we know there’s a catastrophic meltdown on the horizon if this behavior continues, why on earth do we continue to fall into the same old habits? Say it with me: “we are broken.” Is that an excuse? No, it’s grace.
I’m in a busy career. I’m a busy body by nature. I’m always looking to what’s next. I’m constantly finding things that I can improve on and constantly finding things I want to try. Busyness is what I do best. How does a busy body stop being so busy if a busy body loves to be busy?
By finding “it”. The “it” of today may not be the “it” of tomorrow. Today, my “it” was writing out this post. “It” often includes 15-20 minutes with my Bible and a warm cup of coffee first thing in the morning before the busyness begins. Some days “it” is a drive with my windows down while the wind messes up my hair and I make sad attempts to belt out my favorite songs. Some days “it” is finding a close friend that so graciously offers their ear while I sit in my “ick”. Hell, some days “it” is actually sitting down to eat dinner and watch an episode of Friends.
In the end, I don’t necessarily think busyness is a bad thing as long as you’re able to find small moments throughout the day in which you allow yourself to pause, feel, and breathe. Pause, feel, breathe.
In my messy Google search for a quote on “busyness,” I actually found one that resonated with me.
“Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is important this very second.”
– Gregory McKeown
Cliche closing coming at ya. Life is far too short to hurry through it, attempting to preoccupy ourselves with busyness to avoid the necessary valleys. Out of the valleys often comes a damn good story.