Friday, 11 October 2013

To be busy or not to be busy? THAT is the question.

Recently I was reading an article - apologies that I can't remember what or where it was and yes, I do realise how unhelpful that is - which suggested that we have a choice about being busy.  Busy-ness isn't a condition in which we simply find ourselves to be suffering from but rather we thrust it upon ourselves through the choices we make.  It went further, suggesting that we tend to 'wear' our busy-ness as a 'badge of honour'.

This really struck a cord with me.  Until fairly recently, I've often felt proud to consider myself to be a busy person.  A person with lots to do.  A person with so many responsibilities to juggle that I can be left struggling to fit everything in.  It was reassuring to think that with so much to do and so many people to please my life must surely be very full and meaningful and interesting.  Or was the reality more a case of me feeling that I wasn't giving enough time and attention to any of the things I was trying to do?  Could it be that some of the things I was doing were an attempt to make me feel good about myself, or to look good to others, to do what I felt I ought to do or wanted to be seen to be doing.  Surely I had outgrown this sort of behaviour by now?  And yet, I was questioning how much some of the things really mattered to me.

Just over a year ago I returned to working part-time in my 'day job' following a year of maternity leave.  During that period of maternity leave I had set up a business which I planned to run alongside my part-time job and the parenting of my two boys.  Other things were happening too. The Husband was, and is, studying for a Radiography Degree. We were trying to sell a house and 'do-up' our own house. Aiming to cultivate a large allotment plot. Wanted to continue to spend plenty of time with our family and friends.

I look back at that time now and think I must have been out of my mind for taking on so much but at the time I seemed to thrive on being so busy.  I felt proud of all I was achieving. Yes, I was sometimes stressed and a bit short-tempered but that appeared to be the price to pay for the busy-ness and fulfilment.   And then came the return of an ongoing health niggle. Nothing serious in the bigger scheme of things but enough to make me feel poorly increasingly often and to sap my energy and make it difficult to keep on top of all the things I wanted to be doing. 

On top of this I then moved in to a new role at work. And my Dad became ill.  I found myself feeling increasingly tired. Impatient  Worried. Angry with myself and at life in general. Me and The Husband argued more.  I snapped at the boys. I seemed to find myself in tears with increasing regularity. 

Something had to give.  I decided to scale back and simplify life.    I found it hard to reach this decision.  I felt as if I was 'giving in', admitting I wasn't capable.  All in all, without doing all of the things I'd been doing, the things that had been making me so busy,  I felt like a bit of a failure.

The last few months have seen a change in me though.  I've come to recognise that being busy doesn't define me, it simply makes me someone who's got too much to do. Someone who can't stop to think about what she really enjoys and wants to do with her life. 

There are, of course, responsibilities that can't be avoided.  We all need to look after ourselves and our families.  To earn money to live.  But we can make decisions about the ways in which we do all of this.  And all the extra things that we choose to do are just that, choices.

Having stripped away some of the 'extra's in my life.  I've reminded myself that there aren't that many things that are so important to me that I want to do them at a cost to the really important things. I don't need to be, and what's more, I don't want to be really busy all of the time.  I want to relax more and take the time to enjoy the things that matter most to me.  I hope to look back in old age and feel glad to have spent so much of my time doing the things I really enjoy with the people I really love.

It all sounds rather idealistic and lovely doesn't it?  And maybe it is.  You see, I've come to recognise that for me, there is a crucial flaw in this stopping of the busy-ness.  In stripping life back to the basics, I've had the time and space to recognise that the 'basics' do not always provide enough for me to feel completely fulfilled.  It's hard to admit this.  It feels as if I'm saying that the important things are not important enough.  This is not the case. Obviously.  I do feel a bit disappointed though, that my dream of a more simple life has come true but has left me feeling a bit...well...a bit...lacking...I suppose.

Perhaps this is a positive thing, to have recognised that all is not necessarily as I want it to be.  Maybe, being safe in the knowledge that the 'basics' of my life  are getting the time and attention from me that they deserve, I have allowed myself the luxury of having the space and time to reflect on life and to consider what I really want for myself.  Is this selfish?  Maybe.  But I'm going with it for now, so please do bear with me.

I'm not quite sure yet exactly what it is that I really do want for myself right now.  What it is that I need, beyond the health and happiness of those I love, to feel personally fulfilled and happy and satisfied in a way that I currently do not?  I haven't reached the answer yet.   I do however, recognise that whatever this elusive missing element in my life right now will have to fit in a way that will allow me to achieve a real sense of balance.

What about you?  Do you thrive on being busy?  Or do you long for more time to relax and reflect?  Have you got the balance right for you?

No comments:

Post a Comment