Escaping the Busy Trap

by Meg DiMartino

I am definitely a busy person. I love to fill my calendar until it bursts. My friends urge me to stop and remember that I am a senior in college and for the last time will be able to live life unattached to things. But I constantly feel a pressure to fill my free time. I am not sure why this is so recently I decided to pursue a thoughtful introspection of my busy-ness.

I am an AVID New York Times Opinion Column reader—it is my favorite thing to do (nerdy, I know.) I can usually judge how hectic my day is based on what time I sit down to read it. If it’s early in the morning, this is good news. It means I do not feel like I need to be working on something else and the day should be pretty smooth. If it is while I am trying to fall asleep at night, it was likely a rough day. My favorite is called “The Busy Trap.” A NYT article from June of 2012. I forgot about it until I was recently laying in bed reading the latest opinion column and then it dawned on me. I am perpetually busy because I make myself be perpetually busy. But underneath either the obligation or the desire to be busy is this—pressure. I pressure myself into feeling like if I am not eating dinner at 10 PM after a long day I feel guilty for not doing enough. I pressure myself into feeling like I must wake up at 6 so I can do these things I didn’t get to yesterday. I sign myself up for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, I always have. One time someone asked me if I could help him paint a decorative holiday scene on his store windows and I agreed to it. People, I have zero artistic abilities. WHY did I feel compelled to do this? To book my calendar.

 Being at Georgetown, I have a feeling I am not alone. We, as students, push ourselves constantly to keep going. We push ourselves to the point of no sleep or recreation because we equate being busy as being successful. We strive, often times, for volume and quantity when it comes to an iCal. We truly feel the pressure of the resume and job interviews when it comes to having free time because free time is not something we can equate experience with. Society has driven us to the point of busy-ness and chaotic lifestyles and it truly is not healthy. Students need time for themselves, even just to process what is going on and to relax our minds. Being under constant and heavy pressure to perform is taxing—whether we see it now or later.

Don’t get me wrong. By no means am I suggesting that I dislike the activities I do because I don’t. I love my hectic life! I happen to enjoy being busy but I am making a distinction between enjoying busy-ness and feeling pressured into doing things because you are afraid of free time. I enjoy the things I am passionate about and I love being occupied with all of them, window painting for something to do—not so much.

Given my realization lately, I wanted to share with you a secret. If we weren’t students, we couldn’t do anything else that we are here to do. Without being a part of this esteemed university, we couldn’t be in 12 clubs or on 3 sports teams, or have the opportunity to intern on Capitol Hill or 18 other places. Asfinals lurk in all of our blindsides I urge you to read the Busy Trap and take a break. Find solace, find peace. You can afford a break. Eat a cupcake with a friend who misses you, a run with your sneakers who want to be used! Trust me, you have the time. And if you feel like you don’t, you should.