The ‘Busy’ Phenomenon

The last week has been so busy, fraught with essays, midterms, and presentations galore.  What got me through the week was repeatedly reminding myself that Reading Week – and the glorious time off associated with it – was just around the corner.  And so, on Friday, I found myself done and ready to enjoy some much-deserved relaxation time.

All I could say last week

But, instead of enjoying my time off to relax and unwind, I found myself getting antsy and agitated.  And I came to a realization: I’m addicted to being busy.  It’s what I do all day, all the time.  I feel useless, anxious and upset whenever I don’t have something to do or somewhere to be.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this.  We live in a society that prizes busy-ness; if we’re not busy, we’re being lazy, not making the most of our time.

This phenomenon is especially prevalent amongst students.  Between classes, extra-curriculars and work, we’re always on the go and always thinking about the next thing(s) we’ll have to do while doing something at that very moment.  Whenever we’re asked how we’re doing, the standard response has become “Good. Busy.”  In fact, it’s almost become like a competition between students to see who’s got more assignments/tests/papers due in any given time with the winner being the person that seems to be the most overloaded with work.  Simply ‘being’ doesn’t seem to be within our vocabulary anymore (at least not in a non-cliché way). At the same time, we get tired of being busy, always chugging away at our pile of work in anticipation for that next holiday or school break.  It’s an unhealthy, unending cycle of busy-ness and tiredness.

But what does it mean to ‘be’?  It’s certainly not the first time I’ve been advised to ‘be’ but, I have to admit, this concept frustrates me because I have no idea what that even means.  But it’s a concept that intrigues me because, as much as I love the adrenaline rush from constantly being busy, the constantly moving lifestyle I’ve chosen isn’t making me happy – I’m not happy with myself when I’m not working and there’s something wrong with that.  When did I come to associate my own value, productivity and success with how much I could schedule into a day/week/month?

As great as they are, yoga and meditation on their own won’t solve all our problems (although it certainly can’t hurt).  But maybe it’s time to start reassessing why we’re always too busy.  Moreover, what are we ‘too busy’ for?  Where’s the balance, if any, in our lives that’s so essential to our mental and physical health and well-being?

Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers.  But I’ll end with some food for thought from the ever-wise Mr. Han from the Karate Kid (the new one): “Being still and doing nothing are two very different things.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘busy-ness’ in our society and, especially, campus.

– Vivian

1 comment on “The ‘Busy’ Phenomenon

  1. I completely agree! I’ve been thinking a lot about this too, and how I don’t think I want to live in the fast lane for the rest of my life. It seems like everything is about doing MORE and doing it FASTER… but in the process we’ve lost that time for ourselves to just “be still”.

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