The Metropolis

Generation Y problems solved #2: I feel too busy to live. But what is it that I actually do?

Kathryn Bromwich | Monday 18 February, 2013 15:11

A busy young Londoner goes about his busy day

Dear Gen Y Problem Solver,

I’ve realised that I often find myself turning down wholesome yet enjoyable activities – going to a language course, meeting friends, committing to a ten-lesson spinning class, reading a book – with the mental excuse “I don’t have time to do that.” In many ways, I’ve come to feel that I’m just too busy to live. But on close inspection of my daily routine, I’m not really sure what it is that I’m so busy doing. To paraphrase Fairport Convention, where does all my time go?

Yours frantically,
A Busy Bee

Dear Bee,

Congratulations! You have finally realised the unbearable boredom of being busy.

Is there a more hateful phrase to utter in friendly conversation than “I’m just so busy”? Is there a phrase more self-important, or more mythologising of one’s own success?

Yet people never tire of using this line. The word “busy” is a byword for that most amorphous of things: success. It doesn’t matter whether the activity you are ‘busy’ doing is yoga, watching the entirety of Breaking Bad, or playing on your iPad; you will still feel justified in lamenting the fact that you “never have time to do things anymore”.

You may be busy working 90-hour weeks in a job you love. Or perhaps you’re seeing a different one of your 1000+ Facebook friends every night. If you can combine both, you have officially won at Life, and being busy is the price you pay for it. But a cleverer mind than mine might say that many of us have “chosen to be busy” and then claim to be “imprisoned by it”.

I am not innocent of using the phrase myself, and I even feel a little rush of pomposity as I utter it: “I’m really busy these days, I’m not sure I’ll have time”. But it is so dull, so incredibly dull. What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to impress?

You may find that your busy lifestyle makes you susceptible to the idea of a ‘simple’ life and escaping the ‘rat race’: living in a commune, tilling the fields, nurturing seeds and vegetables with your bare hands, gardening, and not staring at a screen for 90% of your waking life. Sadly, however, it turns out that being a farmer is actually really hard and probably quite boring. The grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes it’s caked in manure.

So since you’re stuck in this busy, loud and chaotic city, at least eschew that tiresome little sentence for what you really want to say: “I am a golden God and my life is great, so I don’t have the time to do that”. People will applaud your honesty, although perhaps not your modesty.

Peace out, dude,

Problem Solver

Image: A busy person, being insufferably busy.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter @kathryn42 and check out her blogs – Stuff White Brits Like and London Scrawling.

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Kathryn Bromwich

About this writer

Kathryn Bromwich

Kathryn Bromwich is Commissioning Editor, Observer New Review. You can visit her personal website here.

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