It feels as though I am constantly busy. I’m busy doing things I love to do. I’m busy doing things I don’t care about. I’m busy doing things that seem to take eons to complete. For a long time, I thought this meant that I was happy. My involvement in a multitude of different activities meant that I was well rounded. It meant that I should feel happy. And, for a long time, I was under the impression that I was.
Then, this summer, for the first time in what felt like years, I wasn’t busy. I didn’t have any sports practices to attend. I didn’t have any homework to complete. I didn’t have a boyfriend to make time for. If we’re being honest, I felt devastated. All of these things that I had been filling my life up with were on vacation, and now I had no idea how to make myself feel happy. That was when I decided that this “I like being busy” mantra was a complete and total impersonation.
Here’s the truth: I don’t like being busy. At all.
“Busywork” has always been a particular pet peeve of mine. Why would one choose to do unnecessary work simply for the purpose of filling time? After all the years I spent hating teachers for putting this type of work on me, I realized that I had been filling my life with the social equivalent of busywork.
To be honest, this made me furious with myself. I was irritated that I had spent—or perhaps a better word to use is wasted—so much time on things that didn’t matter. Spending so much time and effort convincing myself that I was content proved to be ten times more work than actually being happy.
It seems to be common in society to think that being busy is equivalent to being happy. When one is constantly filling up the cracks of time with tasks, there’s no time to feel sad, right? Although this is true, there’s a catch. Being constantly busy leaves no time for feeling sad, and it also leaves no time for feeling much of anything.
The ability to feel things is an essential part of being human. By squishing and squashing all of our free time with things to do, we whittle our lives into planners, calendars, and to-do lists. We forget to leave room for the most basic and most amazing parts of life: sadness and happiness and loneliness and joy and love and all of the other minuscule emotions that coarse through us daily. Busier does not equal happier; what matters most are the things you choose to spend your time on.