Stop Trying to Make Busy Happen

“How are you doing?”

“Tired.”

How many times a week is this your normal interaction with someone? As someone whose resume consists of mainly customer service jobs, it seems like this is the typical conversation that I have between hundreds of people coming and going. And sadly, that’s often the only bit of conversation I have with someone. A casual hello to the receptionist at the gym or the quick catch up with a friend you see at the grocery store has become almost depressing. Instead of giving a cheerful greeting, we brag about how exhausted we are. It’s almost as if we compete for the award of busiest and most sleep deprived. 

“I have three papers, two exams and a project all in one week.”
“I have two babies at home, PTA meetings, a dirty house and I have to cook dinner.”
“I only slept three hours, have four meetings today and won’t be done with work until late tonight.”

We have glamorized this hustle and bustle lifestyle so that it makes us look like we have it all together and that our busy schedules are worth everyone else’s envy. On the rare occasion, you find someone who has a positive response to a causal “how are you,” but why is it those responses are the most surprising to us? We’re don’t expect someone to respond with “I’m doing amazing, how are you?” and when they do, it confuses us.

I blame college and social media.

As a college student, you leave your structured high school schedule behind and have more free time than ever before. But do you really? College students are constantly pressured to get involved. Whether it’s a club, sorority, volunteer work or a part-time job, there is always something vying for your time. On top of the 18 credit hours’ worth of papers, tests and projects, you’re also expected to know exactly what you want to do when you graduate and do everything possible in your free time to get there. When you aren’t stressing over your future, you’re supposed to make friends and be social. Who has the time? Unfortunately, I think this pressure continues post-graduation in the form of, yes, your Instagram stories.

Social media, a world we are constantly logged into, has become a portal to our best self. On the internet we can have it all together. According to Facebook and Instagram, everyone has a new job offer, a new house, the perfect kids, a great boyfriend and none of the stress, headaches, bad days or breakups. Blogs, celebrities, and even our best friends can make us feel like we aren’t doing enough.

We are constantly pressured to make everything we do the best we’ve ever done, while simultaneously appearing effortless in our success. The search for that elusive “balance” is how expensive-as-hell juice cleanses, meditation centers and gym memberships make the big bucks. The easiest (and cheapest) way to reset your attitude? Refocus. The next time you feel the need to compete for the award of Most Busy, take a step away. Put down your phone. Heck, turn it off. Prioritize what makes you happy. And stay busy doing that.

Feature art by Victoria Palacios