After reading my friend Robin's piece the other day about the necessity of "being easy on yourself" and this article in The Debrief about our addiction to being busy, I asked myself, "Am I addicted to being busy?" And if so, what's my motivation? Is it the pressure to be productive, as Robin writes about, or is it secretly down to some kind of social competition, as the Debrief article suggests?
By the time I was 15, I was juggling back-to-back ballet company classes after school, two to three hours of piano practice and lessons (sometimes up to four, if I was practicing for a competition), violin lessons, and youth symphony rehearsals on Saturday mornings. Not to mention, a high school schedule packed full with Advanced Placement courses that I'd hope would impress college recruiters.
Busy was my life. Busy was what I knew.
Of course I had panic attacks. Of course I had nights where I felt like I couldn't breathe when I looked at my calculus homework after an exhausting Nutcracker rehearsal. But I got through it. I don't know quite how I did it, but I did.
My addiction to extra-curricular activities carried through to college and eventually ... my adult life. Managing a department at work, pitching content to magazines, writing for my own blog, rehearsing and performing with a symphony orchestra, trying to fit in the odd yoga class here and there, all while trying to juggle some semblance of a social life has left me literally gasping for breath sometimes.
And then I married someone who was as addicted to a busy lifestyle as I was. John is what I would describe as a "go-getter". After covering five different cities in the U.S. within five days for work recently, you'd think that he'd take a break and just sleep in on Saturday. Instead, he leapt out of bed around 7:00 a.m., pointed his phone at the speakers to sync the music in all the rooms (a feat he's particularly proud of) and said brightly to me, "The Heal's delivery is arriving in 20 minutes! I'm going downstairs to clear the room and get ready. And then we can watch an episode of Gotham together? And then we can make breakfast? And I can construct the sofa? I wonder how many parts it comes in! I bet it'll be easy. Do you want a cup of tea?" I think I responded by putting a pillow over my head while he bounded down the stairs with relentless energy.
After taking a new yoga class recently, the teacher complimented me afterwards saying, "You have such a lovely, slow and controlled practice." While I took this undeserving praise with a ducked head, I thought to myself, 'I have to. This is the only place where I can slow down and catch my breath.'
Contrary to the Debrief article, I don't think I keep busy for the sake of being able to brag about my busy schedule ... instead, I think I keep busy because I genuinely have a variety of different interests and, well, because it's what I'm used to. And because I feel guilty if I'm not being productive.
What about you? Is your calendar booked out until the end of the year? Do you often find yourself over-committed? I'm curious to know!