Busy Has Become the New "Fine"

busy fulfillment mental state responsibility social norm Jul 18, 2023

What’s your go-to response when someone asks how you’ve been? Something I have noticed in my own life is that I tend to say something along the lines of, “Oh you know, I’ve been staying busy.” Once I made this realization, I started noticing it a lot more in other people’s responses as well. Instead of saying we are fine, we are now saying we are busy. In a way, it allows us to avoid saying how we are really feeling, but it is also true. We lead busy lives. If you’re not busy, then what are you? 


Society mandates that time is money, so we tend to keep ourselves busy with work, hobbies, and just life in general. When we are young, we are taught to stop and smell the roses, to appreciate the little things in life, and to enjoy the freedom of few responsibilities. However, when we grow up, we are taught that we must be doing something productive at all times for life to have value. This has become such a social norm that companies inadvertently make people feel guilty for taking time off, going on vacation, or putting family first. 


Sometimes when I slow down, I begin to feel stir crazy because I feel like I have to be doing something at all times. When I finished my graduate degree, I felt a bit lost in life. I have been in school my entire life, and it felt wrong to not be taking classes, so what did I do? I signed up for a pottery class. I needed something to occupy my time, aside from my full-time job, and I felt like I needed to be busy to be fulfilled. As much as I enjoyed the pottery class, I did learn a valuable lesson: I find fulfillment when I am true to myself, not by being busy.


To be clear, there is nothing wrong with being busy, and on the flip side, there is nothing wrong with slowing down every now and then. Finding a balance between the two is key. 


Being busy is fine, but being fine doesn’t have to mean that you are busy. 


-Meghan Slaughter

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