Busy Is Boring

Did I just hear my name?

It takes me a moment to find the source of the sound. Across the parking lot I see the waving hand first and the smiling face second. I return the smile and as we get closer to each other I call out a greeting and ask “how are you?”

I ask because I want to know. It’s been a while. I’m curious. I care.

The answer I receive quickly makes me regret it. What was I thinking? Why do I continually do this? Now, I’m kicking myself for being curious (again) and I’m searching my brain for a quick way to extract myself from this situation.

The answer …“Busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy.” Followed up with a few examples of why that is, and zero questions of interest thrown my way.

Ugh.

Don't tell me you're busy.

Here I was thinking I was entering into a friendly chat with an acquaintance when really I ended up being a reluctant listener to an awful monologue I hear too often.

The busy monologue.

This is my translation of the busy monologue:

“I really don’t know what to say to you so I’m just going to fill this space with blah, blah, blah to show you how important I am. Blah, blah, blah.”

Excellent start to a conversation, no?

Not at all.

I think my question was a simple one. Yes, I understand that answering it could be complex. I also understand that timing, and how well you know the asker can determine how much you’re willing to share. Often times I get a “fine” or “good” … I’m guilty of using those myself too when pressed for time, or I really don’t want to talk. “Busy” has even come out of my mouth on occasion. Hopefully more in my past when I thought that was the expected answer.

In this case, we don’t know each other all that well. Perhaps this was seen as making a good impression. (It wasn’t.)

Instead what this did was make me feel bored, disappointed and insignificant.(Unless that was the plan …well then, here’s your gold star!)

I’m not sharing this story to shame the person who answered in this way. I just know how hearing the busy monologue (again) made (& makes) me feel. I’ve shared this story privately since it happened so I also know that there are others like me who feel the same way when people talk about how busy they are. We need you to stop!

By the way, we’re also having this conversation in our heads during a busy monologue:

“Me? Well I am wonderful! Thanks so much for asking. I’ve finally got my voice back after losing it for about a month. It challenged me to communicate differently with my husband, son, friends and my clients.

Oh we also adopted a five year old cat. She’s lovely and became a quick member of our family. What? You want to hear more about what I’m up to because you’re sooooo interested in learning more about me. Well …”

Fine. Maybe it’s just me who does this.

What does busy even mean? There are so many explanations for it. So many excuses.

Honestly, I don’t care what it means. I cringe when I hear the word. I also throw up a little in my mouth when I hear someone tell me why they are more busy than _______.

I’m not interested in how busy you are, or how someone else isn’t busy enough.

I want to know about how your dog dying last week is making you feel today. I want to hear about your weekend adventures … even if they only involved avoiding the dust bunny that was stalking you from across the room. Tell me about the conversation you had with your daughter’s teacher about her last report card. How was that new restaurant you tried yesterday? What book kept you up until 3 in the morning because you just had to finish it? Or add your own interesting tidbit.

I absolutely want to hear about what’s going on with your life (sometimes). And try to remember that maybe I want an opportunity to share parts of my life with you too (sometimes).

I’m not too busy for that.

Olwen Wilson