I do this thing where I will emphatically, without any doubt in my mind, come to a decision. Done. Decided. Good to go.
But then, as I’m in conversation with others and start to feel a hint of either disapproval or maybe even just differing viewpoint on the subject, I start to doubt. This of course leads me to obsessively attempting to explain myself. I start to feel crazy at the thought that the other person doesn’t agree, because does that mean I’ve made a mistake? I believe what I believe so strongly! What does it say about me if what I believe so strongly isn’t reflected in the beliefs of the people I so admire?
I tailspin from there.
I’m just being honest with you. I don’t know why I feel the need to preface today’s post with this little caveat, I just do. Maybe it’s because I process my thoughts through my writing, and I’m really trying to get to the other side of this annoying little habit of mine. Because really, it’s super annoying.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with defending my beliefs on busyness.
Here’s the thing. The pull of my heart has been away from busyness and towards a life of hard work and meaning. I’m starting to understand that most of us confuse hard work with busyness. We think we are achieving so much by our busyness, yet simultaneously making ourselves and everyone else around us miserable in the pursuit of busyness.
You might say, “But I don’t pursue busyness, it just happens. Life is just busy!”
Bull crap. Cancer happens. Loss of a loved one happens. Fertility struggles happen. Busyness doesn’t just happen, we choose it. We choose it by not choosing the alternative. We choosing it by not asking ourselves if there is an alternative. We choose it by allowing others to dictate to us what is important. We build a cage of our own making, and then flail against it’s bars bemoaning the loss of our freedom and our happiness, never once stopping to notice the tools that built the cage which are still in our very own hands.
We did this. We built busy.
Here is the thing. I’m so, so incredibly tired of people making themselves sick and miserable over things that they have every power to change. And I am one of the worst of them, so don’t think that I’m exempt from this message. Like I said, writing this is a way for me to process my own part in the problem.
Last year, I read Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s kind of a business-y book, but with incredibly powerful daily life applications. The main thrust of the book is to live by design, not default. He encourages the reader to “distinguish the vital few from the trivial many.” He also warns that if you don’t choose what is important, others will choose for you. Meaning, you will live at the constant beck and call of other people’s opinions of what you “should be doing.”
I’ve been there, done that, bought the freaking t-shirt, and I am so, so DONE.
Let me come out and be frank. My goals were once centered around being liked, finding purpose in a career, and using my accomplishments as a measuring rod for success. I hung out with people whom I had no real connection with for the sake of maintaining membership in certain friend groups, I killed myself to pursue professional projects and experiences to keep my resume up to date, and I lived and died by a to-do list that at the end of the day, would tell me if my day mattered or not.
Let me tell you, my joy bucket was just ovvvvvver flowing (said no one ever).
I was busy, because I had all these things I
needed wanted to do because I was staking my purpose and identity on it all. I had to accomplish this stuff and I had to do this stuff and I had to make sure a career would be waiting for me some day because that is WHO I WAS, right???
Listen, it’s easy to be busy. It’s easy to be busy with good things. It’s also easy to be busy with things you tell yourself are necessary, when really, they aren’t.
They just, aren’t.
Busyness and hard work are not the same thing. We assume we are working hard when we are busy, but really, we are just making things hard. We crave purpose, meaning, adventure, and passion, but busyness will never get us those things. Busyness gets in the way of those things. And then, when we face the hard work that purpose, meaning, adventure, and passion require, we throw up our hands and say “How can I add one more thing to my schedule? I’m already so busy!”
I’m learning that it’s not about adding more to more, it’s about removing the unfulfilling more to gain the satisfying less. It’s about replacing the empty and exhausting busyness for the fulfilling and inspiring hard work of cultivating a life that matters. A life that means something, not just now, but then, too.
I don’t want you to read this post as a “how to.” I had to go through my life with open hands and an honest heart and ask in what areas was I busy for the sake of busy, and what areas did I need to clear out to make room for things that truly mattered. Where did I need to replace the hustle with good old fashioned hard work. I’ll share a peak into that process for you, but please, PLEASE remember that these are MY particulars. Yours will and should look different, because our lives are different! So take inspiration from my story, but don’t feel like it’s a prescription or even a blueprint for the steps you need to take. Only you can decide that.
What this has looked like for me.
First, I’m learning that I tend to place my value, worth, purpose, and identity on things that are no more stable than shifting sands. I was made by God on purpose, for a purpose, so why do I struggle with believing that? Well, mostly because I try to find my purpose in things that are, simply put, shallow and fickle. I recognize this. I’m working on this.
Which brings me to home. Actually, it brings me home.
I know there are a lot of great things out there. There are a lot of fun things. There are a lot of things that we are “supposed” to be doing. And I just. don’t. care. anymore. I don’t care about chasing a career because it’s not a career that will hold my hand in my old age. I don’t care about the pressure to have my kids in public education and in a million and one sports to “socialize” them because frankly I’m kind of fed up with who society is telling them (and me for that matter) who they need to be. I don’t care about the pressure to volunteer for everything at my church or local nonprofit because my goal is not performance, it’s purpose. I don’t care about the appearance that I’m choosing a life of hard work by homeschooling and being a stay at home mom and cooking homemade meals and taking my kids grocery shopping and doing yoga because IT IS HARD WORK, but dangit people, I’m not busy.
I’ve asked God what it is that really matters and you know what? Wait for it….HE TOLD ME.
He told me that the relationships I’m cultivating with my family and the people who walk through my front door matter. He told me that the hard work I’m pouring into making my home a place of comfort and care matters. He told me that the peace I find by carving out time to take care of myself physically by practicing yoga matters. He told me that the choice we made to enjoy the freedoms and fun of homeschooling matters.
He told me I matter.
He told me that the person he made me to be, matters, and that I better not screw it up by chasing things that aren’t supposed to be a part of my story because I only get one shot. There is not second go around. He told me that chasing a career and getting involved in a million and one “good” activities is fine – it’s fine! – but it’s not the thing that is going to make my heart come alive and turn me into the person that he made me be to be. He made me to be a caretaker. A cultivator of relationships. A lover of good food and great music and meaningful conversation. A nature lover – bookworm – yogi – kombucha maker. A wife. A mother.
The rest? It’s all just busyness.
So here I am, at the end of another blog post. Have I convinced you? Maybe not. And that’s ok.
I’ve convinced myself. This is my bullseye, and it feels like coming home because, well..
Postscript: Again, let me remind you that these are MY particulars. This isn’t a post telling you not to work or not to be involved in the things you are involved in. This is just a jumping off point for you to ask yourself what ares of busyness do you need to give up to make room for the things that might require more work, but will also yield more value. What things are in your life that aren’t authentic to who you were made to be? As always, I’m here. Want an open and sympathetic ear to process these ideas with? Email me. Message me on Instagram. Let’s break the bondage of busyness and get down to the hard work of meaning and purpose. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. You are worth it.