Everywhere I look lately I feel like I see & hear people praising the idea of being busy. “Oh, she has such a busy life but she still does xyz.” “How have you been?” “Oh, just so busy, you know!” And it’s true: real life IS busy. Yet part of me can’t help but wonder if all this busyness (is that a word?) is worth the stress it so often causes us. I can’t help but feel like maybe we are missing out on the simple pleasures of life in our constant quest to always be DOING something. I worry that our children are kept so busy with school & extracurricular activities that they’re missing out on the beauty of being children who don’t NEED to be busy all the time. What it comes down to is I fear that many of us are so busy making a living (& I don’t mean just working) that we forget to make a LIFE.
I’ve learned a lot over the past almost eight years of being a nurse. But the most important thing I’ve learned is this- & it’s really quite simple: Life is short- way too short to be anything but happy as much as we can. What I’m getting at is people don’t get to the end of their lives, whenever that may be, & think “Gosh, I really wish I had been busier.” People often wish they had traveled more, spent more time with family & friends, or just experienced more things. But they don’t usually wish they had worked more or generally been BUSY all the time.
Now if you know me, you know I am by no means lazy. I’ve always been a hard worker at everything in my life, but that being said the older I get the more I value my “down time,” the more I realize the power & necessity of not always being busy rushing from one thing to another. For our own emotional/mental well-being I think it is truly vital for all of us to have some time to just unwind & feed our souls. For me that means making sure I have time to listen to music, play my flute/piano, read books, etc. For others it might mean something else entirely & that’s ok. As an introvert I truly value my alone time & now realize it is absolutely vital for my sanity. And furthermore I realize it is not selfish or lazy to make that a priority in my life.
As some of you may know, in addition to being a nurse, I am also a Rodan + Fields skincare consultant. I am about as a far as possible from a natural saleswoman but I truly love these products & what they’ve done for my skin. Therefore I do enjoy sharing them with others & of course making a little extra money in the process. But could I do a lot more with this business than I do? Absolutely. I could do what I’m “supposed” to do & message everyone on my friends list about the company. I could carve out time in my day to constantly try to drum up sales. But the truth of the matter is I just don’t have the mental energy for all that. I’d either have to take time away from my family, stay up late or get up extra early, or take time away from my own self-care activities in my already limited alone time. And frankly I’m not willing to do any of those things. Obviously it would be a completely different story if I were truly strapped for cash & desperate for any extra income I could generate. But thankfully I’m not. To be clear, I don’t look down on anyone who works their R+F business (or any other direct sales gig) like a real business. In fact I greatly admire them. But it’s just not for me, at least not at this point in my life. I need all the mental energy I can muster to care for my toddler & stay on track at work & home. So if I don’t make as much money with my side gig as some others, that’s ok with me. My sanity is more important in the end.
On a different note, I’ve been haunted lately by some words that were spoken to me many years ago when I was a teenager. My boss at my first job told me more than once in no uncertain terms that I would never live up to my full potential in life if I didn’t become a doctor. I’m sure he meant well but for many years those words hung over my head as I wondered if I was “wasting” my potential by being “just a nurse.” But a full scholarship to nursing school was a hard thing to turn down . . . Plus I always planned to work just a few years as a bedside nurse & then go back to school to become an FNP which I always figured was just as good as being a doctor in my mind.
Well, here I am almost eight years out of nursing school, & the last thing I want to do right now is go back to school. I graduated nursing school with a 4.0 GPA & I always thought I’d be one of the first ones from my class to go to grad school. Yet I’ve seen many of my classmates go back to school, some of whom did not have the grades I did, meanwhile the thought of going back to school right now just makes me feel sick. Sometimes it’s hard to see other advancing their careers while I remain “just a nurse,” but for me the extra stress & time away from my family wouldn’t be worth it right now. In ten or fifteen years I may well change my mind. But I work with NPs & I see the workload they carry home with them & the time it costs them away from their families. And I simply don’t want that right now. To be honest the longer I’ve been “just an RN,” the longer I am thankful to be “just an RN.” And honestly, especially with the vulnerable population I serve, patients today need the smartest RNs possible. As a nursing friend & I were discussing over dinner last night, just because you’re smart enough to do something, doesn’t mean you have to do it or that you should do it. I have no doubt that I am smart enough to be an NP but I also have no doubt that it isn’t the right path for me right now. And that’s ok. My yardstick for success isn’t the same as everyone else’s. And that’s ok too.
The point of is this post isn’t to discourage people from going back to school or advancing their careers. My point is simply that we need to ask ourselves what price we are paying for all of the busyness to which we so often commit ourselves. If it isn’t costing you your mental health or time away from loved ones, then that’s great. But if it IS costing you those things (& I suspect it is for many of us), I challenge you take a step back. Stop & smell the roses a bit. Consider what will be important to you when you reach the end of your life. Remember that being busy isn’t a worthwhile goal in & of itself. Being happy & mentally fulfilled is far more important. Remember that success has different definitions for each of us- & that’s ok. We aren’t all on the same path so there is no need to endlessly compare ourselves to others.
I’ll end this post by sharing one of my favorite quotes from one of my all time favorite books, Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. “In the course of a lifetime, what does it matter?” I think about this phrase often & it helps me not to stress as much about everyday worries & fears while it also helps me to focus on the things that really DO matter in the course of a lifetime. I challenge you to do the same.