When Did Busyness Become a Crutch?


“How’ve you been?”

“Good!  Really busy, but good!”

Honestly, that used to be my default answer pretty much any time someone asked how I was doing—even if I wasn’t all that busy.  Last week, I moved from Washington, DC to my hometown of Chicago.  In DC, I worked full-time, maintained a fairly active social life, and always made time for yoga.  I wasn’t exactly drowning in extracurricular activities, but I felt reasonably busy and was always tired at the end of the day.  I know women who work full time, have children, are active in Junior League (or other volunteer-based organizations), and run marathons.  Busy is, I suppose, in the eye of the beholder, but those women certainly seemed a whole lot busier than me—yet, I always claimed to be a busy little bee.  I did so partly out of a habit—after all, it’s boring to just answer “oh, fine” when someone asks how you’re doing—and partly because that’s what most women seem to say.

Well, no more.  Not after reading this Inc.com piece on busyness being the new status symbol.  The author of the piece draws the phenomenon back to the old adage “time is money.”  So, it stands to reason, that if you’re very busy, your time must also be very valuable (i.e., valuable in terms of dollars and cents).  The author goes on to suggest that this dynamic is beginning to shift as employers put a renewed emphasis on work quality—especially as more and more people take advantage of telecommuting and flexible work hours.  After all, just because you’re sitting at your desk doesn’t mean you’re fully immersed in official business.  I can’t be the only one who occasionally gchats with their friends during the work day…right?

Now that I’m really thinking about it, I was way busier in college than I am now/was in DC.  I was involved in my sorority and in Student Senate all four years (it should come as no surprise that I landed in DC for 8 years after graduation).  I had class during the day and then meetings until 8 or 9 at night and then would head out to, um, fraternize with friends—I’d wake up the next morning, fresh as a daisy, and do it all over again.

I guess this is all to say that, when people tell me how busy they are, I’m going to take it when a grain of salt.  Since I’m not working full time right now, I have very little business saying it myself.  Also, I’ll get more creative with my response to “How are you?”—“I’m fulfilled”, “I’m cranky”, “I’m hungry”, “I’m content,” etc.

Goodbye for meow.

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