There has been a debate circulating around social media in the last few months with people and articles seeking to answer the question: “is being “?busy”? selfish?”. A majority of these, be they quotes or articles, suggest that you should put your relationships before work. Which sounds good in theory, but the work will almost always need to get done. So, this translates to the idea that you should be putting your relationships before yourself.
Respectfully, I disagree. That isn’t to say that you should neglect the relationships in your life, but there needs to be a balance so you aren’t stretching yourself thin. When someone says they are busy and can’t meet for coffee, they are not devaluing you, or avoiding you. It’s not that they don’t want to see you, it is just that they are busy. There are some things that can’t be bumped back, course deadlines, for example. Maybe you have crafted yourself a schedule for getting through an AU course in a specific amount of time, sure those deadlines are self-imposed and could be pushed back, but then You’re falling down the proverbial rabbit hole.
It is most important to be honest with your friends, your family, and yourself. Balance can be a tricky thing to find in the work/relationship front, sometimes friends feel brushed off and hurt when you prioritize the work/school that is keeping you busy. I would rather be able to be caught up on “busy” so if a friend calls and needs something, I can drop and go; be there for my friends when they need me, but not forgetting to take care of myself. If a friend wants to meet for coffee, but you already have errands to run, work to do, or you just want to watch a movie and not think, it is okay to say so. It is okay to decline and reschedule. I have seen a quote floating around along the lines of “if a relationship matters you will make time for it”, I think this is dangerous thinking, and it is what leads to misunderstanding and someone feeling pulled thin and burnt out.
The problem is that there is not a one answer fits all. Some days I am busy, some days I work from eight or nine in the morning until eleven at night. And some days (usually after one of these sprees) I putter away at work and take time to slow down, play with the dogs, visit a friend, or just find some quiet time. The quiet days are just as important to me as the productive days, they need to balance out; otherwise, I will burn myself out again, and again, and again. It is tough to tell a friend no, but I have found over the years that most of my friends understand when I decline. We have come to understand that we can’t always make time when it suits the other, if they are busy I take no offence when they decline me and vise versa. Having this understanding and learning that it is okay to decline just because you don’t have the energy is a freeing and wonderful thing.
In one article I read, the author commented that a text from a friend that declined getting together set her free, her plans were to run errands and chill, so it was not that she couldn’t do coffee today, but needed some time for herself, so how about X day? It isn’t that the relationship isn’t important, and it isn’t that work is taking priority over the friendship, there is no hierarchy, just things that need to be done, goals that need (or want) to be met, and friends that we want to visit. Each of these take time, and, while none should be neglected, no one should feel bad about declining because they need some time to themselves or need to finish a project.
Being busy doesn’t mean you think You’re important or trying to brag, it just means You’re busy. If you don’t have time to see a friend for awhile, it doesn’t mean they aren’t important to you, it just means your schedules haven’t matched up yet. It just is what it is. I try to schedule blank days as catch up days so if something comes up and I want to be spontaneous then I know exactly where I will be able to catch up on the work I blow off to do so, but when those days are filled with work I wasn’t able to get done (because I scheduled too much in a single day) then priorities shift.
don’t listen to the articles that say you should always be busy, and ignore the quote that tells you if your friends really matter to you you’ll constantly put them first. Instead, strive to find balance?find a schedule that allows you to have an option for spontaneity, for friends, for work, and for yourself. don’t feel bad if you don’t want to go out, don’t take offence when a friend declines your invitation, because, just like you, they are probably only striving to find some balance in their life, to keep themselves sane.
Deanna Roney is an AU student who loves adventure in life and literature. Follow her path on the writing journey at https://deannaroney.wordpress.com/