“Oh, I’d love to but I already have something scheduled.”
“Ah, I wish I could but I’m busy then.”
“I’m out M-W next week. Sorry!”
I have dozens of iterations of this phrase. I send them via text, email, Facebook message, they come out of my mouth more often than I’d like to admit. I’m always vaguely aware of my busyness being problematic. Vaguely became acutely today, with one gchat, “...the passive aggressive sorry! at the end of your emails where you can’t go isn’t helping you out.” It brought tears to my eyes. Tears caused, in part by the fact that I’ve been so busy this week that I’m exhausted, but mostly by the thought of someone not understanding that when trying to balance priorities not everything can win and that is hard to swallow for a people pleasing perfectionist.
I’ve created a life where I’m constantly bustling from one activity to another partially from my need to stay moving, partially from my inability to say no to anyone. My people, my inner circle, understands, the peripherals don’t. This has been sneaking up on me for a few months now and that gchat brought it into sharp focus. I can only apologize for not being able to make events so many times before the apology looks insincere, before I stop getting invited. So yes, I’m busy. Being busy is a badge of honor at this point. It means I’m doing more, producing more, accomplishing more. But am I? And at what point is busy an excuse? And at what point is that excuse no longer valid? At some point me being busy isn’t a badge of honor, it just makes me look like a jerk.
Never wanting to disappoint people I will bend over backwards to make it to events. This can mean leaving the house at 5:15 am and not getting home until 10:00 pm, fitting meetings in over at seven am after the gym, over lunch, anything to make everything work. I will make every effort to be where I need to be. But is my presence meaningful if I’m tired, distracted, grumpy, resentful of being there? No. There are times when events directly conflict and have to be prioritized. My health comes first (this is a new addition), work and projects are next, my family and inner circle comes third, everything after that is based on order of invitation. When I can’t make it to an event I say I’m sorry, and I mean it. I hate letting people down, not showing up when they ask me to, but at the end of the day I can’t be everywhere at once.
It’s something I’m still figuring out, how to balance all of the demands on my time. I understand that everything on my plate is something I put there and am taking a good look at what can be removed. Just know until I figure it out, I’ll do everything I can to be where you ask me to be. If I can’t make it I am truly, deeply sorry.