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I was way busier than normal over the course of the last two months, and lemme tell ya, I learned some things.
What was I so busy with? I was co-producing an immersive theater show about family, ancestry and white supremacy. Every night we hosted 25 people around our forty-foot-long table to see the show, eat a meal, and share in conversation about the themes of the performance.
It was about 7 hours of my time (and like, triple that in energy) every night for two weeks, not to mention all the running around and late nights and early mornings and short fuses and minor crises of the two months that preceded opening night. I learned lots about race and whiteness, got some new skills in facilitating difficult conversations, and gained lots of knowledge about producing avant-garde theater.
But unsurprisingly, I also learned a lot about myself in all of this busyness. Here’s some of it:
1. When I’m very busy, I quit taking care of myself.
Instead of letting go of the actually extraneous things (scrolling Instagram, for instance), I let go of the things that keep me sane and happy. First I quit seeing my friends, quit going for walks, quit going outside to look at the sky (can’t stop, too busy!!). Then I quit cooking for myself, doing laundry, making the bed, etc.
By the end of May I was wearing the same outfit for three days at a time and eating frozen dumplings for dinner at 1:30 in the morning. Not cute.
2. I relied waaaaaaaaayyyyy more on caffeine and alcohol than I usually do.
I’ve been off of coffee for about five years now (Email me if you wanna talk more about this--it drastically improved my anxiety symptoms). I generally drink alcohol once a week or so, sometimes a little more, often much less. Though I don’t drink coffee, I do sometimes use caffeine recreationally (afternoon chai latte is me living on the edge).
But in May, I was drinking tea most mornings because I was so exhausted. Then I was drinking with the cast and crew after the show every night for camaraderie and decompression. And then I needed caffeine in the morning to function, and then I needed alcohol at the end of the night to wind down.
It was a self-perpetuating cycle, and it was draining and expensive and made my skin break out.
3. I realized that my free time makes me richer than money ever could.
My favorite thing is waking up and knowing there is nothing on my agenda for the day. My second favorite thing is having space on my workday mornings for yoga, meditation, journaling, breakfast, and a walk before I ever send an email or talk to a client.
These both went away when I got busy.
(NB: Though I make relatively little money, I recognize the degree of privilege I’m coming from here. My whiteness, my currently able body, my lack of family requiring my care or financial support all contribute to my privilege, which contribute to my ability to have the kind of schedule I do.)
Having a spacious schedule with enough down time and ample breathing room is worth so much to me and I’m willing to say no to things in order to protect it.
4. Finally, I learned that other people are really freakin busy all the time. Like way busier than me.
How are y’all doing that?
When I complained about how busy I was in April and May, other people reflected that they were that busy all the time. I seriously don’t understand how y’all are managing being so busy all the time.
If you feel like this, would you write me back and tell me how you manage? And what you struggle with? Because I think I can probably help with this issue but I need to know exactly what’s going on for y’all crazy-busy-all-the-time types.
Do you have thoughts about busyness or spaciousness or the lack thereof? I’d love to hear em! Leave a comment below!
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