You would think that it would be easy to find time for the things you love… if only that were true. For me, as for most of us, it’s frequently the opposite. I’m so busy doing the things I have to do that frequently I don’t make time for the things I love to do.
The things I love that I don’t do often enough all have one thing in common: they allow me time to slow down, to breathe, to think, to reflect, to get out of the routine of go, go, go. Reading makes me stay in one place and get out of my own head and into someone else’s. Writing helps me process the jumbled chaos of my life. Taking a walk (and running when I briefly tried that; it’s not for me) allows my mind time to relax. Even more so than carving out time to read, write, or take a walk, I have found that I also need intentional time to dream.
While life is often driven by busy, busy, busy, how are we ever supposed to know where to go next if we don’t set aside intentional time to process those ideas? To let them sit in our heart? For me at least, I need that time. (See also: Hi, I’m an introvert.)
There are somethings I can do without and it doesn’t bother me much in the long run (TV, movies, etc.), but keep me from these other things for too long, and I stop feeling like myself. I need the downtime. I need the space in my mind where I’m not frantically running from one thing to another: from work, to the gym, to home, to cooking dinner, to showering, to meeting friends, etc. etc. etc.
When does it stop? For me, it stops when I make it stop. When I say, no, let’s reschedule. When I give up a workout. When I forego elaborate meal plans and grab whatever I can from the fridge. When I stay home on a Friday night. Or (and this is the perfectionist in me who thinks I can do it all) when I just become more efficient.
Oh, but what a trap the idea of efficiency is. Because no matter how fast we work, there are still only twenty-four hours in a day. I can’t be everything and do everything, but I’m learning that I can be something, and I can be it well.
Much has been written about the cult of being busy in America, and it’s the truth. I can’t tell you how many times over the past year and a half that when someone has asked how I’m doing, I’ve simply answered busy.
The sad thing about that is a) it’s a poor answer and b) it wasn’t even always all that true. Sometimes my busyness was nothing less than a search for an answer that would satisfy the average person. “Everyone understands busy,” I thought. “Everyone likes to hear busy.”
When most people ask how you are doing, they don’t want to hear that you are sometimes really happy and sometimes really sad, that you’re struggling, that you don’t always know if you’ve made the right choices.
The truth of the matter is that I made myself busy for a long time because I was scared to be alone, to be lonely. As a single person, I do a lot of things by myself, which can be both good and bad. When I first moved back to St. Louis, I didn’t really know how to cope with spending so much time by myself, so I made myself busy. I started working out regularly, I started volunteering, and I got involved with a bunch of organizations. None of these things are bad, and at the time, it was certainly what I needed. But a year and a half later, I’m starting to realize that maybe I need to slow down a bit.
Maybe now I need to make more time to dream, to write, to be in this space.
Maybe I need to give myself permission to stop glorifying busyness.
Maybe I just need to make the time to dream.