I’ve been so busy these last two months. It seems like I’ve been busy being so busy. In April I photographed a dear friend’s intimate wedding in Las Vegas which was booked-ended with nonstop travel in May. A work trip, my younger brother’s undergraduate graduation, another wedding, and a peaceful ‘see you later’ to an important relationship left me feeling emotionally drained. Now, I feel I barely have enough energy to see my friends or pick up a book after the work day ends. It’s suddenly 9 PM and I’ve been sucked into TikTok for the last few hours while my brain is still processing all of the complex problems I need to solve, to-do lists for the next day, and how to put privacy controls around various machine learning models. Sigh, time. And my brain. Nothing has shut off and I’ve barely given myself time to rest. Busy, busy.
My aunt likes to say that “busy” is an excuse. Everyone is busy and no ones busy-ness outweighs the next person. I think she’s right. I avoid using the “b” word (busy) around her when she asks me how I am, because I’m afraid she will call me out. As a therapist herself, I can’t hide from her questions, they are designed to make me think about how I am really feeling, which is everything and nothing all at once. Being busy has become my identity as of late and it’s comfortable. I find myself slipping into projects, work, and avoiding my people because I’m sad or unwilling to process life’s most recent lessons. “Busy” makes me feel productive and accomplished. It feels like a better word even though I know it’s deceptive. If I am busy then I can dodge how I really feel, and if I’m too busy then maybe I won’t have to talk about it.
I know the former to be untrue. I’m busy, just as busy as the next person, but I’ve really avoided processing the emotional whirlwind of this last season. I’m spent, overdue for a good cry, or ready to turn the page and start a new chapter of life. My younger brother graduated college and our family gathered to celebrate him. He flew out to visit me and we talked of our childhood, romantic relationships, and how our parents are getting older. I re-signed the lease in my apartment without my former partner on it. I am putting away insane work weeks, trying to prove that I belong in this environment. I’m exhausted from the rush of having to renew my passport for a surprise international work trip. I’m also exhausted from having to figure out what to do with myself in another country for 10 days. I’m single and miss my ex. Life feels harder than it’s been in years. I really need my therapist to come back from her month-long Italian vacation so I can avoid putting my feelings out into the internet void.
Busy is a good cover up for unraveling the patterns and routines I have built for myself that I want to change. I’ve consistently been in therapy for the last three years and am still uncovering things about myself that are new. I’m not afraid to get to know myself, I’m just scared she won’t be a good person, or that I won’t like her. All I have been asking for is time alone. Now that I have it, I am terrified of having to face myself. In my life it’s always one thing after the next. It’s rare that I get to rely on a plush routine, even though that’s what I’ve been craving. I might be suffering from the beginning of burnt out, or I might just need to cancel all of my plans and read every queer self help book to ever exist. But I can be “busy” and contemplate if it’s any of these things or none of them, even though it’s probably the former.
I’ve found a meditation on Spotify that doesn’t make me feel too cheesy. I’ve started to journal again. I try to leave my work phone in the other room. I’m calling some of my friends back and I try to only make plans I know I won’t bail on, a source of newfound power. I’m going on walks. I even bought a new emotional support water bottle. I’m not convinced all of the self help books ever written will help me learn to love and accept myself, but I can finally admit to myself that I’m not just “busy,” that I can let the people in my life know what I’m feeling. I can take up the space and exist and have all of the feelings and I don’t have to blame it on being too busy. All of this is a great effort to love myself. Blah.