Friday, January 16, 2009

On Not Being Busy

(Disgustingly cute cat photo posted especially for Rene)

I've come
to discover something about myself - I hate to be busy. This does not mean that I like to sit around the house and stare at the wall because I don't have anything to do. No, this means that I cannot stand having a dozen things to do in any given week - doctor's appointments, school functions, meetings, etc. After work, I like to come straight home and savor those few hours I have before bedtime. On the weekends, I don't like to make many plans. After all, I work every day from 8-5 and am only home in the evenings. I've got to spend some time in an apartment I'm paying good money for, right?

My best friend has always been a very busy person. In fact, she thrives on being busy. She has a full-time and a part-time job. When we were
in college, she had a very full schedule - a job, extracurricular activities, socializing, and not to mention those pesky classes. Yet she did just fine.

I operate a bit differently. While I definitely want to hang out with my friends, have dinner with family, or go shopping, it is not a daily or even a weekly need. I have precious little time with an 8-5 job and I've decided that I want to do the things that I want to do. Does that sound selfish? Maybe it is. But
I don't think so. That's a major reason I said NO to a television. Who needs to waste time watching stuff I'm not even interested in when there's something else I want to do? Write a letter with my quill and on my embroidery...cut up magazine pictures and make a collage with my daughter...and of course, write!

Sometimes I feel guilty for not volunteering at my daughter's school (though I have volunteered a few times to bring treats - but to actually be a room parent? Ack!) or at my church. But I am intensely uncomfortable in situations like that, and instead of looking forward to the date I have to do something, I dread it. I can be extroverted sometimes, but mostly, I am introverted, which is why I think I like to not be busy. Instead, I would rather donate money to the school or my church or give old clothes to a local shelter rather than actually volunteer.

Does this make me stuck-up or indifferent or uncaring? Goodness, I hope not. Should I push myself to do those things and try to make myself like it? I confess, there are some volunteer activities that I have really loved doing - like speaking at a retirement center, which I've done three times now.



  1. I think that everyone is wired differently in this respect. I don't think that one way is better than the other, either. I have to have a schedule, and it should be somewhat filled, or I don't know what to do with myself. But, I feel like I cherish those times when I can relax. I think we should just understand how we are and then live our lives in that way.

  2. Heather - I think you're right. Accepting who we are instead of trying to fit into what we think we should be is the way to go.

  3. We all have different operating systems. My OS is like your old roommate's...busy to the max, running six ways from Sunday. At one time, I was the main parent (husband traveled 6-9 mo/year) of 3 kids (plus we got his 2 kids often) very close in age, volunteered way too much at school, church, community, and had 4 part time jobs. Now that kids are older, I've slowed down somewhat, but still have a crammed schedule which includes helping take care of my mom.

    We all do as we can, and you know what? Your DD doesn't need another school worker, but there's NO ONE else in the world who can or would sit down with her to do math and make those lovely decoupage creations! Kudos to you, Momma.

  4. stuck-up, indifferent, uncaring and lazy! : )

  5. Follow your heart, Melissa. With a busy schedule, it's difficult sometimes to put yourself on the "To-Do" list, but so important. And you're a better person for it in the long run.

  6. Angie - Aww, thanks. You made my day. :-)

    Calfee, I can always count on you for an honest opinion. ;-)

    Joanne - Very true. Busy schedules often don't leave a lot of room for "you" time.

  7. I'm exactly like you, Melissa. I would much, much rather donate something - anything - than get involved in a busy schedule.

    And that really is a disgustingly cut photo. :o)

  8. I'm the same way. I'd much rather donate some physical thing than my time. That sounds awful I know, but I seem to always be running everywhere and I justify what I DO do as at least I did something! Plus now my daughter is a teen. I did more with home room stuff when my daughter was little. Now it's about dance recitals and events that she WANTS me to stay in the background and just hand her things blindly through a hole with a bag over my head so no one sees anything remotely motherly going on. :))

  9. Shirley - A kindred spirit! :-) And yes, it is an adorable photo.

    Sharla - It does sound awful, doesn't it? But really, it's not. I mean, if you're still HELPING out in some way, that's what counts, right?

  10. I'm with everyone else. You are you and you wouldn't be as lovable if you were trying to be anyone else. Be comfortable in your own skin, that's the secret to happiness.

    That said... it is good to try new things, for example - the retirement center - you would never have known how much you would like it if you hadn't tried. Just get to know yourself and your comfort level. Don't let yourself or anyone else make you do something you don't want to. :D

    Have a good day lady!

  11. I'm the same way. I get overwhelmed when there's one thing after another to do; I like it best when little calls us away from home. At the very least, I like get-togethers and errands to carry on over a couple weeks, so it doesn't feel like I'm running crazy.

  12. Arrrggggh - I just wrote a long comment and Blogger ate it. To summarize:

    I'm very much the same as you, so don't think you're stuck up or anything like that. People who love you know who you are and take you as you are - a devoted mom and writer who likes time to herself. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    Love the kitty pic :)

  13. Jenn - I agree. I think it's good to try new things, and you're right - if I never would have tried speaking at the retirement home, I wouldn't have known how much I enjoyed it. :-)

    Janna - I get overwhelmed and cranky and just generally unhappy when I'm not home very much. I find it fascinating how we are all so different - some people thrive on being busy, others absolutely hate it; some people love to volunteer, others would rather do something else. This ol' world of ours just continues to amaze me.

    Tess - Glad you like the kitty pic. *grin* And thanks so much for the compliment - I think we're kindred spirits in a lot of ways, too!

  14. I'm the same way...I hate, hate, hate to be busy. It's not like I sit around. Huh, I wish. The basics in life--errands, my son's school (driving him there, picking him up, homework, etc.), cooking, cleaning, laundry, church, working out, writing, getting together with extended family and friends--keep me very busy so I add very little else.

    I think a lot of what's wrong with this country is that we've disconnected with our immediate family so we can instead give them a million other "experiences". No one wants to miss out on anything, or have their kids miss out on something cool, that we're missing out what's real--close family bonds.

    So no, I don't think you sound selfish. You're there for your daughter, you provide for her, and as long as your doing that you have your priorities straight.

    As for volunteering at school and church, there are many different ways we can serve both and it doesn't have to be "in person"--prayer is the easiest and cheapest :).

    Don't feel guilty. Never feel guilty. And it does not make you stuck-up or indifferent or uncaring. Look at that cool collage you did with your daughter--you were engaged with her, you took time out for her, and that is a memory she will probably always cherish--more moms need to do stuff like that vs running around all over town from activity to activity.

    I don't think you need to push yourself anymore than you do. You have a job and several hobbies you love and when things like speaking at the retirement center come up and you think it sounds doable, then you do it.

    Great topic!

  15. Jenna - You stated things so perfectly. No wonder you're a writer! :-)

    I agree with you, that there is a push today to get our kids into everything possible. And sometimes I feel guilty for NOT putting my daughter into some activity or other. But if she ever wants to try something, I'm all for it. I don't want to ever hold her back from doing something she wants just because I can't be "bothered" to do it. So it's a careful balance, I think.

    Very wise words. Thanks for sharing!

  16. You are who you are and that's ok! I don't like to be too busy either and thrive on my down alone time. I think I need it to recharge. My days are much like yours and I know when I get a job, I will be even more protective.

  17. I think it's wonderfully healthy to be able to acknowledge who you really are. It took me years to realize that I fall inbetween. Which is kind of weird. No one seems to identify with the inbetween.

    I'd only share what I've found that is sometimes pushing outside my comfort zone has been a really good and important thing to do - but only when I recognize that "hi, this is me not in my comfort zone, doing something kinda hard" rather than beating myself up for it being hard.

    That's not terribly eloquent, but something I've personally been reflecting on lately. ;)

  18. It's smart, not selfish.

    You are a writer.

    That means you need a lot of solitude and a lot of percolation time.

    Besides, people who are overly busy tend to overbook because they're afraid of what they'll discover in the silence.

    Writers NEED that silence -- and that discovery.

    How you choose to spend your time is no one's business but YOURS, unless they're paying you to spend it in another way (i.e, a deadline, etc.)

  19. Terri - You said it well - I'm very protective of my personal time. I absolutely need it to recharge and face the upcoming work day.

    Robin - I think good things can come when you push yourself out of your comfort zone - just as long as it's not TOO far out and you end up being miserable!

    Devon - I agree. Writers definitely need the alone time and the silence to truly create.

  20. If I have more than one non-work, non-writing event scheduled in a week (coffee with a friend, a doctor's appointment, whatever), I feel pressured. If I have more than two, I start to feel overwhelmed.

    Extroverts sometimes have difficulty understanding this. Vice versa, too. I look at the most extroverted people in my life, and I'd swear they belong to a different species.

  21. Christine - I think you described me exactly. I feel the same way if I have even one appointment scheduled for the week. Sometimes, when the day arrives that I'm having lunch with someone, I will actually toy with the idea of canceling just so I don't have to feel that pressure. It's just bizarre, especially since I end up having a great time.

  22. I know exactly what you mean. I'm the same way and my best friend is always trying to get me to go out and do things I really don't care to do. I love her to death and sometimes I even agree to go, but for the most part I just want to do what I want to do. Granted most of the time it's stay home, but hey, that's my choice, right?

  23. Hi C.D. - Thanks for stopping by! I do enjoy going out sometimes with my friends, but it's getting to the point where once a month is enough. Otherwise, I'd rather come home on a Friday night and have a quiet evening. :-)

  24. I gave up volunteering for stuff years ago, when I was doing more for everyone else than I was for me. It's the one thing that's stopping me going along to a writing or walking social meeting, because I know they'll try to guilt me into doing stuff. If that's selfish, then I'm selfish. But there's a balance we must try and meet for US and not for anyone else.

  25. Diane, I agree - having a balance is crucial.


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