Busy-Bragging Detox

I keep seeing articles discussing this era we’re now in where bragging/complaining about how busy we are is some sort of status symbol. The first time I think I read about it, the term used was “busy-bragging” which feels clunky but is a fairly good description of this phenomena. Every time I read another piece discussing this trend and the damage it causes, I cringe all sorts of cringes because I recognize myself and the problems it spawned in my mental health. I try not to feel too bad though, as I’m actively working with my therapist (DRINK!) on this compulsion because – for obvious reasons – it does nothing to help with my anxiety.

But holy crap, it runs VERY VERY DEEP. As the author in that article I just linked to points out:

This points to the really interesting but thorny thing about busy-bragging, which is that most of us who engage in it aren’t doing it consciously to impress others. Those busy feelings are absolutely real. I feel them; Rosin feels them; the authors of those posts on how to email important people feel them, too.

I see people online (whether writing complex analytical journalistic pieces or simple Facebook statuses) busy-bragging and I suddenly feel guilty that I had a few hours of my day where I laid in bed and played on my iphone. Like…I FEEL REAL GUILT. Which is asinine because the whole reason I’m giving myself time to lay around and do nothing is to try to CURE THE ILLNESS CAUSED BY BEING TOO BUSY ALL THE TIME.

It’s like I found out I’m celiac so I’m avoiding wheat per my doctor’s orders. But then I see other people eating wheat and I feel guilty that I’m not eating wheat too. What the Hell, Kim?

I’ve been really trying not to feed into the culture of busy-bragging no matter how weirdly compulsive the instincts are. I still vent here on my blog when I have super-busy days, but I try not to default to doing the statuses that busy-brag on Facebook because I realize it makes me part of the problem. I’m also trying not to look at a blank spot in my schedule and immediately say “yes” when something comes up that would fill that. I’m not signing up for all of the races just because my friends are, I’m not volunteering at them just because my kids don’t have soccer that morning, I’m not accepting a social invite just because I have no brunch plans already in place, I’m actively saying “no” even if there’s no “good” reason to decline. I’m really making BIG progress in trying to clear more time in my life for self-care so that I avoid the downward spiral into depression that my anxiety triggers.

BUT MAN. I am having a hard time dealing with the guilt associated with that. I saw a friend recently discuss working MORE than 40 hours a week (I have several friends who work “more” than full time) and I suddenly felt this twinge of guilt as I had a conversation just the night before with my husband saying I couldn’t ever do that because it wasn’t in the best interest of my mental health.

So suddenly I’m the big wimpy wuss who can’t handle working more than full time when all of these other Rockstar Moms and Wifes do it JUST FINE.

It’s just this weird battle with myself. I know I’m making the right decisions for me and my family, but it’s hard to see the culture of busy-bragging and not feel like I’m less of a person because I crumbled under the pressure of it all.

I guess it’s similar to if you stopped drinking but you had built your peer groups around pub crawls and wine tastings. Suddenly you notice that everyone is constantly posting pictures of their latest local seasonal brew discover or their wine glass and you’re over there feeling shame that you couldn’t drink in moderation, and so to compensate for that shame you try to shift it to thinking that EVERYONE needs to quit drinking and you’re just ahead of the game.

I guess I’m a busy-bragging addict and I’m trying to give it up and bask in some blank spaces in my schedule, but I’m doing this in a world where it’s the cultural norm to be over-worked and over-scheduled. So right now I have to consciously battle the guilt that arises and try to recognize that for ME and for MY FAMILY, I’m doing the right thing. And try to resist the compulsion to “busy-brag” in constant Facebook statuses – something I was guilty of doing ALL THE TIME as the “On This Day” tool reminds me.

Some days I think Facebook is not good for me for more than reasons of insane political climate (“Don’t Vote For Monica’s Ex Boyfriend’s Wife” is the yard sign of the week that upset me) but also for this general feeling of competitiveness I feel when I suddenly worry the rest of the world is productive and I’m vegging out on Blindspot. I never felt guilty for reading or watching TV before Facebook.

As I’m working to clear more time for me and self care, I’m evaluating my exposure to triggers and maybe part of my self-care will be to just limit Facebook all together, so I’m not constantly comparing myself to other people.

But I sure would like it better if I could just be content with my own decisions and not feel inadequate compared to other people. That’s probably the deeper crux of the issue, finding self worth outside of metrics defined by other people who are NOT ME. When I figure that one out, surely there will be angels in heaven singing a chorus in my honor.

7 Comments

  • Beth

    Downtime is productive. Remember that we introverts recharge by being alone. No reason for us to be active and with others all the time. That is how we will burnout. As for the overtime work. It has always been my theory that 2 working parents with kids should not be working over a total of 80hours. Maybe a bit higher some of the time. So if one spouse works 55 hours, the other one should be around 25 hours, no more.

  • Amy

    I wonder if you have considered that many other over scheduled people aren’t “fine” either. They may seem fine on Facebook, but we all know that Facebook is not real. I am reminded of the many times I have read the status of a friend whose life seems so very wonderful, and then we have a chance to talk in person and I find that things are much more difficult and complicated than they seemed. Try not to compare, as it is the thief of joy. You will be so much happier if you do what works for you. 🙂

  • wendalette

    It’s kind of sad that I’m so tired (from being too busy!–see what I did there!) that it took me a moment to ‘get’ the meaning of the political yard sign. But it actually made me laugh instead of mad. Funny how a shift in perspective can change things….hint, hint.
    Put it this way–you are just as busy, but in a different way. You aren’t doing ‘nothing’. You are actively performing an action (so what if it’s pokemon?) to maintain your physical and mental health. Even resting is doing something. Maybe look at it as scheduled (flex) downtime if you MUST feel that every minute must be accounted for. ?
    Now I must go take my own @$$vice. ???

    • Fraulein N

      It took me a minute to “get” that sign too. It made me laugh too because it’s so utterly tacky and just … really? THAT’S what’s sticking in their craw?

  • Elaine C. B.

    I learned that there is a yoga pose that basically consists of lying on the floor (laying on the floor?) and it’s called the corpse pose. So you can always just lay down and tell people you’re doing yoga. 😀