Why do we glorify running around like a headless chicken?

“I’m sorry, I don’t have time to see you this week, I’m too busy. Maybe next week, but after Wednesday?”

Hands up, who said a variation of this phrase in the past few days? A few weeks?

My hand is up. Guilty as charged.

I study full time, work part time and occasionally want to have sex. I am busy, at least during term time. It’s just a fact of life, something I can’t really change if I want to keep feeding myself.

I often hear from my friends and family that they admire how I manage to handle everything. But you know what? There is nothing to admire about it.

Photo by Mario Calvo

Because at least once a week Mr Arguably Honest gets a WhatsApp message (c’mon, who texts anymore…) saying “I feel like I’m running around like a headless chicken“. Because I do. I try to do everything well – excel at work, get firsts at uni, be a good girlfriend, a good friend, not go crazy. It’s quite a balancing act. Although I am happy with my life right now, if I could make it less busy, I would do it this second.

For some reason I don’t quite understand anymore, we glorify people who are constantly busy, endlessly in a rush. We admire those who handle many things at once, and do everything well at that. Those who just focus on one thing, or like to spend an evening reading a book in the park get so much less affection, and often an impatient: you could do so much more with your time. 

But could you? Or rather, should you?

This pressure to rush is one of the things that make me dislike London. With all the commuting, long working hours, everyone walking fast, easy access to whatever we desire, and addiction to technology, we become impatient, we want everything at once and right now. I’ve never been Miss Patient, but it didn’t take London long to make me even worse. Yes, I’m one of those people who thinks waiting 4 minutes for the next tube is outrageous. Yes, even after midnight. And I don’t like it about myself.

It’s very fashionable these days to say “I don’t have time for anything” or “I’m too busy to do xyz”. But why? It’s not healthy, it very rarely makes us happy, not allowing us time to live a life and enjoy it. At one time I got to the point where I went to bed so tired that I woke up tired. And that was just insane – being tired after a full 8h of sleep.

And I had to say stop. Because, at 22, I refuse to cry because I’m tired and struggling to handle everything I have to do. Because I have one life. I know it sounds cliche and everyone says that, but no one will give this time back to me, ever. And if I don’t take care of myself, no one else will.

Because, at 40, I don’t want to wake up with depression, my kids not remembering what my face looks like, and high blood pressure because I just can’t take the stress anymore.

When Mr Arguably Honest suggested I stop working at 7pm every day I laughed at him, saying that’s not possible. So we sat down, planned my week and made it work. Did I do anything special with this after-7pm time? No. Unless you consider binge watching Bones special. But I had my time to relax and unwind. That’s sacred to me now. I won’t give it up without a fight.

I know, some people say that you should work your bum off when you’re young, then reap the benefits later. But is that really true? And does it really make sense? What benefits am I going to be reaping in this hard to identify, distant future?

Why don’t we start glorifying people who manage to achieve a good work-life balance? Enjoy little things? Have a job and do it well, but also find time for their friends, family and cat?

Photo by Dan Carlson

I want read books, go to the cinema. I want to enjoy an evening walk and discover new places in my neighbourhood. I want to try new foods and savour the taste, instead of trying to eat as fast as possible, so I can move on to the next task on the endless to-do list. I want to sit down and listen to the rain. I want to jump over the puddles and laugh at it, because I feel like being silly from time to time.

I want to enjoy my job, but I won’t offer my whole life to it on a silver platter.

We’re told rushing is good. We’re told doing a lot at once and trying to be perfect is the right thing to do.

But what if…

What if we all suddenly refused to wait for this badly defined future time, when we’re finally allowed to be happy?

What if we all decided that we want to celebrate life, a day at a time?

What if we all started praising people who make time for themselves?

It’d be such a beautiful revolution…

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