Self-Importance and The Illusion of Being Busy

I just don’t have the time. I’m too busy. I have a lot going on.

When did it become a badge of honor to stuff every minute of the day so jam-packed with “things” to keep ourselves busy? It seems that there’s seemingly not enough time to do anything anymore but to tick things off the to-do list? Since when does excusing oneself from life become acceptable because there’s just “not enough time” to deal with it? I’m sure we’ve all either given these excuses or we’ve heard them ad nauseam from people in our lives. The truth is that the illusion of busy-ness is a generator for excuses that we feed ourselves when we don’t want to deal with situations that would require us to put our soul out into the world. Our lists of excuses are also a way for us to feel self-important, as if the busier we are the more fulfilled we seem to the outside world. It’s a way of filling the void of fulfillment that is bred into us by society. The void where fulfillment should be is created by insecurity and a lack of confidence in our decisions. We’re all unsure about our position in the universe and making ourselves too busy to even participate in our lives is a poor bandage that we mistake for a solution. The knee jerk reaction is to fill that void with something, but when we have not taken the time to be truthful with ourselves and our desires, the result is that we fill this void with neutral tasks and miss out on the things that are actually important. Do I have to do all of the household chores today at the expense of Skyping with my mom? Do I have to check Facebook every twenty minutes at the expense of writing that short story? Must I really stage that perfect Instagram post with my significant other instead of actually enjoying the moment in time? Subconsciously, these tasks serve as a means to exert some control over a life where we truthfully have little control and to evade certain things about ourselves or interpersonal relationships that we don’t want to deal with. Filling the day with seemingly important things to do is a one-way ticket to Ego Town and a temporary distraction from the parts of life that deserve our full attention. It is the easy, and less rewarding path.

We’ve all been there, and we know what busy is. We’ve all offered the excuse that we’re just too busy to repair a relationship with an estranged friend. We offer excuses about how we’re too busy to make our friends or family a priority over our seemingly endless to-do lists. The truth is that everyone is busy, and everyone’s time is equally important. No matter who you are, a vagrant or the queen of England, an hour of your life is an hour of your life, and it is not more or less important universally than the hour of another person’s life. So we need to stop telling each other that we’re just too busy for one another. By asserting that we’re too busy for one another is akin to saying that our time is more important than theirs. It’s a way to evade the truth. What seemingly overly busy people lack when asking for a portion of their attention is not time, no. What’s lacking is prioritization, or focus, or motivation, or all three, but it is certainly not time. We make time for the things that are important in our lives, and we do this all the time. By not giving something our attention and our time, we are saying that this person or thing is not important enough to warrant our attention. It’s untruthful at best and and it’s insulting and damaging at worst.

Being busy is not a virtue. So, please, let’s stop using the excuse that we’re “too busy” in order to evade parts of our lives that need attention. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and wasting our own time on endless menial tasks. Let’s start prioritizing and focusing and being present instead.

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