Why feel guilty about being relaxed after always being too busy?

2012-08-30 09:41

I, like everyone I know, am exceptionally busy.

You know the kind of busy I mean. The kind that makes you blink twice then giggle hysterically whenever anyone asks how you are.

The kind that makes you show people you are currently in meetings, the endless procession of meetings scheduled in your diary for the rest of the week … almost as if you need an audience to believe this is really happening to you.

Yes. I mean busy in the offensive, self-absorbed sense.

In fact, my busyness has gone past offensive-busy and into full reality distortion.

“If I don’t write this promotional emailer within the next half hour, dreadful world-shattering things will happen!” I’ll say to my colleague Denver, envisaging company-wide disaster and possibly the extinction of some heart-wrenchingly cute species.

“Or you could do it tomorrow,” he’ll suggest amiably.

“Have you seen the number of meetings I have tomorrow?” I’ll shriek, waving my iPhone in his face. “No, no … Everything is about to go horribly, irreparably tits up!”

Later, at home, I’ll regain perspective and get a little sheepish – only to do it all over again the next day.

I can see that this complete lack of perspective is stress-related and stems, very simply, from trying to do too many things at once over a prolonged period.

So why is it that whenever I try to do nothing and recharge, I feel so ridiculously guilty?

“If my mother could see me now, she’d be so ashamed,” I’ll say to Andreas of a Saturday morning, lying in bed at 11am, playing mindless games on my iPad.

“I should be at the mall, replacing the boys’ broken light fitting. Or at gym. Or walking the dogs briskly along the beach. Or…”

“If you’re about to show me your diary again, I might have to move to the couch,” Andreas will remark, over his book.

(He seems to have no existential crisis about recharging. I am particularly resentful about this.)

I have recently been struck by how incredibly unfair it is to feel more comfortable within the world as a busy, albeit not important, worker person, than as a lie-about family person, surrounded by people for whom you make the Top Three People in the World list.

This column is making me want to stop working this minute, lie down and think thoughts about clouds.

I think I shall.

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