I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter, FB posts whatnot on an opinion article in the New York Times about being one of those “busy” people.
There are some particular excerpts I found annoyingly ignorant about being busy:
It is, pretty obviously, a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation: “That’s a good problem to have,” or “Better than the opposite.”
They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.
Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.
– Tim Kreider
I wanted to write about this because I wanted to clear the misconception that Mr. Kreider has put out there to the masses. I noticed that he (or the New York Times) turned off the comments option, and many of the comments in there were from people just like me- people who are busy not because we’re afraid of being idle, but because we actually want to live life to the fullest in every way we possibly can. I am one of those people, and I always have been.
In fact, in high school, I was voted “Most Involved”.
IN HIGH SCHOOL.
I was a regular Max Fischer.
I joined a hundred clubs, sports, ASB, on and on and on. I think I was on eighteen pages of my senior yearbook, honestly. I didn’t do it for college admissions or to prove anything. I didn’t do it because I was afraid of being alone. I am alone a lot because I live on my own, work from home, I love my independence… and always have… I did it because I love learning new things and meeting new people. People from all backgrounds and interests and passions. And don’t think I don’t stop to smell the roses- I do- that is just another part of it all. Yoga, meditation, living in the moment- appreciating the present while having all of these experiences…. that to me is living life.
And yes, Mr. Kreider, I am booked many hours of the day. But those hours are fulfilling to me… and sometimes they are with friends and family and sometimes they are on my own, or in another country, or with new people. I want to learn how to make clothes and teach yoga and see things in the world that perhaps you can only dream about… because that is what makes me happy.
And I’m not the only one. There was a study by the University of Chicago that said busy people are… guess what? Happy. Weird.
Several of my friends who know me well, have known me to be busy my whole life. They know they have to book me in advance OR catch me spontaneously at the last minute. That is who I am. I’ve had friends tell me I should quit things to make room for someone special in my life (since I am single), and I have seriously considered it. But what I realized, doing that is not me. I think my soul mate is going to be someone who embraces this part of me- and may even be a busy person himself… and will understand because we are cut from the same cloth. This is who I am.
So, Mr. Kreider, be careful how you label happiness and fulfillment. I would venture to say that what you meant in your article is that people who feign busyness are those that are truly suffering inside. Those of us who actually are busy…. well, my friend, it’s called living life. And I for one, love every second of it.