Busy, busy, busy

“You are so busy! I just don’t know how you do it all!”

I secretly beamed with pride that someone admired me for my cram packed schedule. It was my sophomore year of high school.  I scheduled my days from 7:00 am until way past 10:00 pm as is typical of an overachieving high school student.

Looking back now that conversation embarrasses me. Was I trying to brag to a student who I perceived to be a less than overachiever? I am ashamed but now I know what I was doing. To be busy meant you were important, or so I thought.

Busy Means Busy

Now, twenty (plus some) years later,l work so hard to combat that mindset in both my college students I counsel as well as my colleagues. But it isn’t just my 15-year-old self that thought busy equated needed and talented because so many of us believe that lie throughout our lives.

“I am so busy.”

“I just stay on the go.”

“I’m just running.”

“I’m overwhelmed but I just can’t say no.”

You know the sayings. I hear them every day. And in complete honesty, I am guilty of saying them way too many times. A friend asks me how I am and I respond, “Just staying busy.” Why do we do that?

I can’t stand cliches yet I have overused this one. But in my defense it’s so easy to do in our society. We praise the stressed,  the overwhelmed and the constantly running. We think they must be on an amazing mission to be so needed every hour of the day. But now many of us are becoming wiser and the lie we have been telling ourselves is losing power. We have been that busy and realize that most of it was never needed. Busy doesn’t mean important….busy only equals busy…that’s it.

The Pursuit of Dedication

My dream was to be an Olympic gymnast when I was in 4th grade. Granted the most advanced skill I ever acquired was a round off but I had big dreams. I wanted to be so dedicated to my sport. I dreamed of spending hours in the gym. I was willing to sacrifice other teenage social activities so I could be a gymnast. To be that dedicated would mean that I was special.  I never aimed to be busy at that age, just dedicated.

When did we mix up dedication with simply filling up our planners? When did white space become so bad? I haven’t been bored since I was 12-years-old. I have been so busy. But when did the practice of being busy rewarded me? It never did. It overwhelmed me. It made me sick. It disabled me. Dedication on the other hand, when I truly fell in love with something, served me. Dedication earned me a doctorate. Dedication helps me write. Dedication encourages creativity. Dedication isn’t running scared.

Be Dedicated

We need to step back and not worship the busy. Don’t mix up dedication with the mindless tasks of the harried. Wise people take breaks. Scared individuals stay busy so that they don’t have to think. The ones who take time to reflect can recommit to their dedicated pursuits on a daily basis. So stop mixing up the two. Commit yourself to find the goals that truly ignite a passion in you and drop the constant on the run lifestyle. Take time each day to find out what is true passionate work and what is busy work. Be brave enough to know that being busy isn’t working hard, it’s working scared. Scared that someone will think you aren’t special. Be wiser than my 15-year-old self and realize that dedicated pursuits are focused not busy. Be dedicated.

More on the topic…

7 Ways to Refocus Your Goals
Slow Down For Lent
7 Stressors to Say No to When You are Overwhelmed
Slow Down Mama, We Aren't Robots

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