Recently I was talking with a friend who all but apologized for referring to themselves as "busy," when there were other people out there doing more things than they were. I sometimes feel the same way, or, perhaps worse, will find myself judging others who -- in my jaded opinion -- aren't doing as much as they could be. It's a vicious cycle of internalized comparisons that, frankly should probably stop.
From an early age we're taught (well, most of us) that it is good to be busy. There's that old saying: The devil finds work for idle hands. You'll hear about some folks doing more in the early morning hours than others -- who aren't even awake yet -- do in an entire day. We nod our heads approvingly, standing back in admiration at the awesome productivity of our fellow humans. We'll look at someone who juggles (the word "juggles" is almost always used) a plethora of different things in their daily life. Busyness, dear reader, is to be admired and aspired to.
That's all well and good. There is something to be said for being productive. Our society wouldn't function without people being productive in some way. How that productivity manifests itself, however, can be fairly diverse. There should also be some sort of pause before conflating being busy with being productive. The two aren't always the same thing.
Regardless of how one spends their time, it's worth noting that we all have our own particular thresholds. Referring back to an earlier portion of this post, it's probably best not to judge or compare one another based on those thresholds. One person's busy may seem like another person's idle, but that becomes a fairly subjective point of contention.
Sometimes, the thought of going back to school enters my mind. Of the myriad aspects such an endeavor brings forth, one of the things I think about is how I wouldn't want to do it with my current schedule. I am, frankly, at my threshold of business. Now, some may scoff. There are definitely people out there with far busier schedules than I, and that's fine. Good for them. But they have a different limit where they're okay with doing more. Others, seemingly, do far less than myself but, again, their threshold is lower.
It is worth remembering that we don't really have a window into others' lives. We may think we do, but very rarely are we able to truly reside within someone's mind and heart, to know what they're okay with handling, and what they're not. I've never understood, for example, when one-half of a couple goes out and works each day, and the other half stays at home (either to care for a kid or just take care of the abode), why our society tends to place greater importance on the out-of-home. worker. Being busy and productive doesn't always come with a paycheck, after all.
I'm not saying there aren't people out there who take advantage. Of course there are. But they are (I hope) the exceptions. The rest of us are out here, doing the best we can with what we got. None of us should be running a 'busy marathon,' to see who comes in first, middle, or last. This isn't a competition between who can stack more tasks onto their day. At best, we should just chug along, hopefully make a dent into what needs to be done in our lives, and be content with that.