Over the last few years, and most especially the last few months, I have taken notice of something that has become very interesting to me.
I can’t tell you how many times I meet a colleague, a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger, and I will ask “How are you?”
And more often than not their answer is … you guessed it … “I’m so Busy”.
In this crazy world we live in that hardly comes as a surprise does it? We are all running in five different directions wishing for extra hours in the day, extra days in the week, and extra months in the year (especially ‘this’ time of the year).
I get it. I really do. I’m busy too.
But here’s the thing.
“Busy” is not an emotion.
You see … the question I asked was, “How are YOU?”
And let me be clear. When I’m asking how you are I am not asking how many basketball, curling or hockey games your kid had today. I am not asking how many deadlines you have at work this week or how many volunteer commitments you have on your plate this month. I’m not asking about your list of things to do, nor am I asking about how many miles you have driven in the past 48 hours.
I am asking about YOU. About how YOU are. As a person.
I know many of these things certainly impact on how you are feeling … about where you are emotionally … but they are not YOU. These things on your checklist and on your fridge calendar and on your blackberry … they are not you … they are not how you are … and they are certainly not emotions.
Maybe you are overwhelmed. Perhaps you are at your wits end. Perhaps you are ready to cry you are feeling so buried by everything. Or maybe you are thrilled with how busy your life is. Maybe you are fulfilled and overflowing with gratefulness about how many rich and rewarding experiences you are participating in right now in your life.
Either way … THAT’S what I want to know. Say that. Own that. But don’t say you’re busy. Busy is not an emotion.
Busy is the easy way out. And somehow it has become what we, so called good parents and good citizens of the world, are ‘supposed’ to say. If we are busy, well then our life must be very important and fulfilling. If we are by contrast not busy, how can we possibly be leading a rewarding life? If our kids are not doing six difference activities how can they possibly be growing into amazing young people? (She writes with heavy sarcasm).
But that’s not what this post is about. Right now in my life our family happens to be in fact very busy. We have two kiddos in middle school who want to be part of every opportunity going, we are two working parents and we have pretty robust social lives with friends and extended family.
But “busy” is not how I choose to define myself. “Busy” is not who I am. And it’s certainly not a status symbol of any kind in my life. I admittedly look forward to March when I am less busy … but this is the life we, as a family, have chosen for the months of September to March. I try and recognize my “busy” for what it is … and I try not to complain about it nor do I wear it as a badge of honour or glorify the fact that my life right now may happen to be busy.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that words matter.
I know we don’t always express ourselves as well as we could. I can’t tell you how many times I wish that I had the perfect words for a grieving friend or an awkward situation or the perfect answer for a difficult situation.
Our words can’t and shouldn’t be perfect. But maybe we can be more thoughtful about them sometimes. Because they are how we portray ourselves in the world.
So the next time someone asks you how you are … remember what the question is … that maybe they really do want to know about YOU and how you are feeling … not about your to-do list.
And then if you still want to say busy, then by all means, shout it from the rooftops … but at least be thoughtful about it and don’t use it as a crutch, a glorification, a go-to, an excuse …. or an emotion.
Because it’s not.
I could not agree more! If your are busy, how are you feeling about this busy time in life should be your answer. My other favorite thing people I find say is “i’m fine” which I think is kind of another remark that does not really state how you are. I think it has become such an automatize response that, the definition no longer really means that your really doing just “okay” or “fine.” It is almost like they do not either want to say how they are feeling or they don’t know themselves.
It’s sad how robotic our responses to this question have gotten. It should be recognized as a reminder for us to check in and say “You know, I’m stressed with all the things I have been doing lately, I am really tired.” Or better yet, “Ya know, now that I think about it, I am really busy which is exhausting, but I’m really happy and thankful for all the things in my life right now.
Any way I like your post it really makes me want to try harder to be more conscience of my responses.
I hear ya! I agree with you as well. Sadly people are often on auto pilot and are not paying any attention to you anyway. How often have you heard back “fine,and you”? There was no real exchange there. I don’t think the majority of people really want to know how you/ me really are- sadly… But I agree, it is not an emotion. I bet the ones who say busy or fine are the ones hiding or not wanting to share how they really are feeling. Then there are the ones who are afraid you are asking because they want you to do something for them….. Really, this is just me throwing out thoughts in my head. I’m not a writer. Love to read everything you write and enjoy what you observe and love that you call people on their s#*t!!!! Love you!