Stop Asking Me This
It happened again yesterday. Someone I hadn’t talked to since before the pandemic connected with me and the first question out of their mouth was the one that makes me bristle: “Are you busy?”
I’m always put off by that question. It triggers questions in my head like:
· What does it convey if I reply that I’m not busy? That I’m lazy or a slacker?
· Is that the thing you most want to know about me?
· Are you hoping I’ll say busy and complain about being overextended and exhausted in order to validate that you are not the only one feeling overextending or too busy?
Busy is a sensitive topic for me. For far too long, I’ve fallen prey to equating busy to value. Busy meant I was in demand. Busy meant I was doing a lot of things. Busy meant I had things to do and people to do it with. Busy was a badge of honor, a battle to be won, even though busy came with burnout and exhaustion.
I call that thinking the “busy trap”.
· In the busy trap more is seen as better, even though more may just be more.
· In the busy trap not being busy was seen as not adding value.
· In the busy trap “doing” for the sake of “doing” is more important than doing the right things.
· In the busy trap there is no time for not doing, for reflecting, for learning., for pausing, for rest.
To be honest, I do indeed have a very full life. I am an entrepreneur with three different ventures. I spend intentional time with family and friends. I make time for myself and my health. I read. I travel.
But here is the thing: I am not crazy, swirling about, can’t catch my breath busy.
I really have little desire to be busy. So when you do see me and want to inquire about my life, rather than asking if I am busy, ask me these things instead:
· What are you doing that interests you?
· Tell me about something you are doing that feeds a passion.
· How are you using your talents and skills these days?
· Catch me up on what is happening in your life right now.
If in doubt, just ask me how I am ….. but only if you want to have a real conversation.