Saturday, January 10, 2015

busy is the new okay - which isn't okay

I've done it too. I've walked into a meeting and had someone at the table say, "Angie, it's good to see you. How are things going?" And I've sighed dramatically and perhaps shook my head side to side before answering, "Busy. So busy." And perhaps in that moment, I'm not feigning exhaustion. Perhaps my pre-schooler crawled into my bed at four o'clock that morning and decided to lie his superman pajamed body horizontally across my entire pillow. Perhaps I spent the last two hours before dawn sleeping on the floor with only the hand towel I pulled, eyes half closed, from the yet to be folded laundry basket to keep me warm. Perhaps I sat next to the community gossip on the bus, and heard far to many half truths about my neighbors for what seemed like a never-ending commute. Perhaps I walked into my office with a strategic plan in hand only to be usurped by a student in tears over his cheating boyfriend and another in arms over the A- on what she swears was a near perfect paper. (And perhaps I spent an hour explaining that the "minus" was representative of the "near" in "near perfect.") And perhaps I walked into that meeting, with no sense of the agenda and having lost my pen. But even so, "Busy. So Busy." is not the answer to my well meaning colleague's question.

I've always disliked the word, "okay." Is it more or less than good? Should I assume my work-mate has too much on her plate; that my husband had a rough day with our son; that my friend has lost yet another job? I never know. 

But I far prefer it to "Busy." Busy is not an answer to how is one doing. It's just the lazy default response. Yes, you may be busy. You may even be too busy - but that alone doesn't dictate your mood. 

Recently I have tried to answer the "how are you?" question with at least some degree of sincerity: great, good, tired, excited, nervous. And at the same time, I'm trying not to wear the state of "being busy" like a sandwich board. Because what does being busy, or at least too busy, really say about my life other than I'm inefficient, unorganized, and overworked? And why should I advertise those things? And, if I'm too busy to read, sit in my garden, watch a movie with my husband or play superheroes with my son - then the answer to, "Angie, how are you?" should probably be "not okay."