I am not so busy

Just like that, the summer skated by. When friends and family have checked in with me to see how things are going, I've told them a similar story:

I'm busy! Lots of projects in my queue at the internship and I'm constantly working on fellowship applications. You know how it is.

There's some truth to this story. I did, in fact, work on a bunch of different projects this summer at the Brennan Center. I did, in fact, log a number of hours in the pursuit of job opportunities after I graduate law school.

But the story is bullshit. I am not so busy. I've spent many hours in a state of fractured focus getting an astonishing nothing done. I've passed evenings lazily in Central Park. I've gone to shows. I've strategically visited different pizzerias to determine which has the best slice.

I say I'm busy because I think that busyness means business, that it's some badge of honor. It's not.

I am not so busy.

But I'm scared. I am in the state of flux, where the future is unknown. I don't know where I'll be next year or what I'll be doing. Often, that not knowing can be exciting: you can slip into a hopeful place of possibility. Other times, it's debilitating. And when the fear sets it, it's easier for me to talk about being "busy" than about being afraid.

When we say we're busy, it doesn't always have to be about fear. It could be a mask for our lack of prioritization. We say we're busy so that it's understandable when we drop the ball on some things, or if we don't offer the world the best we have. But instead of confronting those deeper tensions, we present ourselves as sympathetic hard workers.

If you ask me, "How's it going?" and I reply, "Busy!", I give you a free pass to call me out. I invite you to join me and think:

I am not so busy.

See also The 'Busy' Trap, The Busy Person's Lies