For many years I have found my worth in busyness.
From the outside, looking in, people might think, ‘she’s a go-getter!’, or describe me as driven and focused. But I’ll tell you a secret.
I’m just a little girl who has always felt that the more I’m doing the better I am. That a busy schedule means I’m important and therefore, that I’m okay.
This feeling of being okay with myself is at its highest when I’m productive, working on multiple task lists, and have a full calendar.
Busy is never finished.
But the feeling never lasts. The goal posts always move. I’m never busy enough or taking the best opportunities. The work is never done (where is the bottom of my laundry pile!). So the striving continues.
And that's when I wind up on the kitchen floor, surrounded by mess, demanding children and pets, and belittled by my perceived failures.
And it’s here, in this mess that I have to remind myself, again, being busy does not define my worth.
Here on the floor, I have to tell myself that it’s okay that the house hasn’t been cleaned or the lego is still on the floor from yesterday, or that we ran out of milk again. It’s okay that the washing hasn’t come in off the line and is getting damp, again. It’s okay that the kids are getting an ‘easy’ dinner, again. It’s okay because today I’m choosing to love myself for who I am and just be still.
Accept the UnBusy.
Accepting myself in stillness is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But this path to self-worth has been the most sustainable and gratifying of any others I’ve walked. Taking a few moments of stillness and silence to tell myself that I’m okay, and tomorrow is another day is the best gift I can give myself.
It's not necessarily the busy in itself, but it’s what we do with the busy that matters. We can use it as a yardstick against which we measure our worth, or we can choose busy intentionally, only to serve us when we need it.
3 Ways to Accept Yourself, in Stillness and UnBusy Periods
1 | Become friends with stillness and quiet.
I’m an introvert, so in some ways, this one comes easier. But even you extroverts, I encourage you to become comfortable with sitting in stillness.
Practically this might look like stripping back your calendar. I’m talking about unnecessary meetings, appointments, social media time, or Netflix time. It takes practice to become more accepting of this stillness. Get comfortable with just being and not doing. This could be a life's work - best you start now! What if tomorrow you said no to one thing and said yes to a relaxing bath instead?
2 | Get to know imperfection and mediocre
I’ve always been a perfectionist. Less so after children, and even less after deciding that I want a slower life. Chasing perfection has always meant I’m constantly on the go, hustling, exhausted, and busy. Now I prefer to let a few things go. Like that washing on the line.
Sometimes good enough is just good enough. We can do our best without running our tank empty every time. What if tomorrow you choose to sit and admire the LEGO pile on the floor instead of picking them up?
3 | Let your inner child out to explore and play
One of the favorite stories from my childhood is a Little Golden Book - Santa’s Toy Shop. It describes how Santa and his elves are very busy all year around making all the toys for children in the workshop. And on Christmas Eve, he goes out to deliver all the presents and at the last stop, ‘he unpacked all the toys, but he did not hustle right away. Not this time!’. Instead, he set-up those toys he spent all year making and darn-well played with them!!!
I’d like to think that once in awhile, we could stop and play. Hang out in the home we’ve worked so hard to create and just enjoy it. What if tomorrow you just choose to use your home as a playground and channel that inner child?
Learning how to let go of busyness as my measuring stick has been one of the hardest lessons. But every inch of this journey is worth it. I'm happier, calmer and more present for my family.
This journey can be yours too. Are you ready?
Meet Emma Scheib of Simple Slow & Lovely. Emma gained her Masters in Psychology in 2013 and has since worked full time in corporate research positions for government agencies. She recently gave up her ‘dream job’ to pursue being a (happier) mum, living a slower pace of life. She is dipping her toes back into her long-lost love, creative writing on Simple Slow & Lovely. Connect with her online here: Blog | Facebook | Instagram
- Get off the roller coaster: 5 ways to go slower today
- Is ‘busy’ the new ‘good’?
- My children are teaching me how to be present
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