When everyone else is too busy

Sometimes it seems like everyone else is so busy. Sometimes it feels like, no matter how busy I am, I still have more downtime. In any case, it seems like everyone is too busy for me. What are they doing? Are they all hanging out without me? Am I a loser because I have free time right now? Why is it that, no matter how busy I am, everyone else is busier? Why is it that they just don’t have time for me. Am I not very important? Why is it that when a friend wants to connect with me, I have time for them? Why is it that I can’t seem to find people who have that same kind of time for me?

These are a few of the thoughts that run through my mind during certain times of the month. During my luteal phase, which lasts roughly two weeks, all of my insecurities that I can usually ignore the rest of the month, come to the forefront of my mind.  Today, while I am in the follicular phase and feeling great, I want to remind my luteal self of some things.

This morning I remembered a certain man I used to know that I really admired. This man, who was like a father figure, had a certain way of making me feel like I was the only person in the room when he talked with me. I knew his position in my church meant that he spoke with lots of people throughout the week, but I had a suspicion that he was able to make every person he met feel like they were the only person he was thinking about in that moment. I admired that about him, though I never thought to develop that skill myself. Until this morning.

Have you ever been around someone who seemed too busy for you, even when you both set aside some time to spend together?

I have. I never really know if people are genuinely that busy or if they are trying to appear busy. In our society, busy-ness and productivity are praised while rest and free time are mocked. While I was in the presence of those who seemed super busy, I felt like they didn’t have time for me. I felt like I could never measure up in the amount of busy-ness I had compared to them. I felt less than.

One way I try to give people my undivided attention is to put my phone away when I am with others. I want them to know that I am with them. During my precious time with friends and loved ones, my phone can wait. Even when I am on-call, as I often am, I am not constantly checking it. I try to make a point of setting it in a place that is close enough to hear and go about spending time with those I am around. My off-call time is my treasured time to put my phone on silent and give my entire attention to those in my presence.

I didn’t realize until this morning, that in order to help people feel like they are the only person I am thinking about when I am with them, I will need to practice. I need to reframe my lack of busy-ness as a skill-building exercise rather than evidence of my losery-ness. (Thank you to some precious women in my life who encourage me to reframe, especially during times that that is the last thing I want to do.)

I asked myself, “Who do I want to feel like they are the only one in my presence when we are together?”

I want my friends to feel that when we are together, that I am truly with them. I want them to feel like I want to know them and that I treasure those rare stolen moments that we get to spend time together. I want them to feel loved and special around me. I want them to feel like I am interested in them. I want them to know that I am concerned about them and that I really am here for them to hear those deep questions about life. I want them to know that I am always ready to have meaningful conversations.

I want my clients to feel like they are my only client. I don’t want them to have to worry where my mind is while I am attending their birth. I don’t want my clients to have to worry about my “behind the scenes” or my “busy-ness.” I don’t want them to feel rushed when I am around, and I want them to feel like I am giving them my undivided attention. I want them to feel like I truly care about them as people and want them to have an amazing birth.

My poor unfortunate family hasn’t always gotten my best, nor my undivided attention. I want to work on that. I do try to put my phone away in a place that I can hear it, though. They know that I am a doula, and they know that means I may need to leave at a moment’s notice. But I do not need to constantly check my phone in order to be able to leave at a moment’s notice.

And if I do have some free time? I need to treasure those moments as time I can spend on myself. I can finally do those things I am usually too busy to do. I often wish I had time to just do what I want, such as finally read those books that keep piling up on my nightstand. Losing myself in an awesome novel used to be one of my favorite activities, but I haven’t had the time to do that as much as I used to since having kids. Now that they are getting older and a little more independent, I’ve been able to read more often. Instead of chiding myself as being a loser who just doesn’t have enough to do, I need to embrace those sacred opportunities to fill my cup. I am worth it, and I am finally starting to realize it.

I still treasure connecting with my friends. I am an introvert, so it isn’t quite enough for me to distract myself with small-talk. I want to really connect with others. My bids for connection aren’t very grand. Usually it is a simple text asking, “How are you doing? What are you up to?” Really what I want to ask is, “Can you tell me about what you are really feeling right now? What thoughts have you had about life today?” I truly want to know.

Sometimes I don’t want to think about those things that haunt my mind.

Sometimes I need a break from those racing thoughts, but I am learning that “busy-ness” doesn’t cure it. I am learning that connection with others is what cures it. I hope that during those times that everyone seems too busy, I can remember to not give up on connecting with others. I need to keep searching. I need to remember that I am not actually a loser who doesn’t have enough to do, but that I have been given an opportunity to help others feel like they are special to me. I can practice helping people feel like I do not have anything better to do in that moment than to give them my undivided attention. Which, if they are anything like me, helps them feel pretty loved and special. Spending a lifetime learning how to love others sounds like a pretty un-losery thing to me!

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