Why am I so busy?
I know I tend to over-commit – a personality flaw, maybe.
But even when I don’t have commitments, I feel like I rush – through meals, “alone time,” prayer,
I feel distracted and hurry through time with friends, parties, TV series: moving, moving, moving.
Why am I so busy?
I think: I’ll do less.
But what I really want is to do more. To be more.
Maybe these aren’t your thoughts precisely, but I doubt any of us are immune to feeling that we are “very busy.” We can, at the very least, recognize that it’s fashionable to say we are very busy.
We can lecture and analyze the situation. We can observe that this is a symptom of modernity. We can blame our hectic lives on technology, automation, social media, smart phones. And, don’t get me wrong, I find those conversations fascinating.
But they don’t really help me today. They don’t help me when I look at my schedule and feel stretched too thin. While remembering that the Internet saps time does help me to put my laptop down and walk away from my phone, it doesn’t help me when, despite many things to do, I feel bored or unfulfilled doing them.
Should I do more? Should I do less? Should I do differently? Am I crazy?
I’ve wondered all of these things. And I think we each can, and probably should, consider them. Still, I have the growing realization that the more important question, the most important question, remains unanswered:
Why am I so busy?
I’m tempted to respond: Well, because I have many things to do! I have family commitments; I have friends; I have a job; I have hobbies; I’m a very interesting person…
But even as I type this, I’m unconvinced. Do my family commitments stress me out? Am I overwhelmed by friends? Is work crushing me? Are my hobbies more work than leisure?
Maybe the answer to these questions is, “Yes.” At different points in my life, I can point to acute stressors. I can label things that make me busy, things I can’t control. These things are the drama of life, and I don’t mean to dismiss them.
But as a millennial, as a single person in a wealthy nation, I have an arsenal of options, from food to entertainment to cereal brands. In the face of these options I make myself busier more than necessary. I find myself creating a level of activity not required by my commitments to family, friends, or work.
I rush from one thing to the next: chasing, chasing, chasing.
So, I started asking myself instead: What am I trying to accomplish? What do I really want? The answers have surprised me. For example, I recently cracked open a book of French vocabulary. (I took French in college.) I keep telling myself I’m going to brush up. It’s something I’ll do in my free time. I think this is a good idea, and a really neat way to spend my time, even if it does make me busier. However, why do I want it? Why is this the thing I’ve decided to do? Do I want to re-learn French just to say I know it? Do I want to conjugate French verbs to make myself smile as I fall asleep at night?
No. I want to learn French to speak with my friends who know the language, and very, very importantly, I want people to think I’m intelligent and cultured. Furthermore, even if I don’t always realize it at first, something else is hiding here. I want people to think I’m intelligent and cultured so they will like me: so they will love me.
I want to be loved.
Realizing this, everything makes sense. I want to be loved. However, do I really believe the supporting thought: when other people think I’m interesting and cultured they will love me?
It sounds sad when I say it like that, doesn’t it? Do I really have to earn love? Thankfully, my friends and family have loved me freely even when I thought myself very unlovable. They love me in weaknesses more dramatic than ignorance of French vocabulary, exposing the flaws in my earlier line of thinking.
Remembering how I’ve been loved when I’m unkind, callous, and lazy – I can reject this idea that I lack something necessary to being loved.
Recognizing my desire to be loved and my fear of not being “worthy of love” is also one of the ways I’ve experienced the radical love of Christ. He loves me perfectly even when I reject Him. As St. Paul says in the Letter to the Philippians, “Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philippians 3:12).
Remembering this fact changes the way I view my schedule because I’m not rushing to prove myself worthy of love by being interesting. I am already loved. I don’t need to worry. Furthermore, my certainty of the fact of Christ’s love means that even if my friends would reject me, I know I am preferred.
A good friend told me to be ruthless with the things in my life. She told me to test them: Does this make me happy? In this place, do I realize that I’m loved? She said, for her, this has been a better way of living the drama of life rather than rushing to accomplish everything.
I want to keep close to these questions: Why am I so busy; what do I want? I want to remember them especially when I rush through my day or when I feel overwhelmed.
Why am I so busy? Well, because I want to be loved! And I too easily forget that I don’t have to earn that love. Asking this question, speaking with my friend, they all make me remember the words of St. Paul when I feel tempted to make things hectic: Christ Jesus has made me his own.