Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Free-Time Shaming

"Oh my God, i can't remember the last time I read for fun!"

"Wow, you're going to another concert? I wish I had that kind of time!"

"How do you write on top of all of this?"

"One day, you won't have time for pleasure reading."

These are things I hear all the time. All day, everyday, from everyone. People in my program, people online. Everyone who hears I'm doing something widely considered to be "leisure activity" has to counter with an explanation of how busy they are. These statements, while often genuine, are also thinly-veiled expressions of envy that are meant to shame the subject--re: me--into feeling bad for not having as many commitments. And I do feel bad.

Or I did.

Not anymore. Now I'm calling bullshit. Because, here's the thing, I have commitments. I'm finishing my final semester of grad school. I have a job. I have medical issues that, frankly, take up a lot of my time. But I also read, and write, and go to concerts. I go out for drinks with my friends and coffee with my coworkers. And when these things slide--until yesterday, I hadn't read a not-for-school book in a week--I don't shame the people whose lives haven't offered them that opportunity. Because I understand that we choose the way we spend our time. It's not shameful that when I manage my time, I factor in at least an hour every day to wrie, or revise, instead of watching reality TV. It's not shameful if you marathon Top Model every weekend.

It's a choice, and it's a choice I make with sanity in mind. I'm a much happier person when I'm regularly seeing live music and if I'm writing. And I arrange my schedule around it. I write papers late at night, I do my reading for class in the doctor's waiting room. Whatever it takes. And if I complain about being busy, it's not okay to counter that with a "But, wait, didn't you go to three concerts this week?" because, yes, I did. I made that choice. It doesn't mean that I'm not still swamped, or that I choose to be swamped, because my choice to go to the concert is, to me, just as valid as my choice to go to grad school, and people complain about that constantly. Don't say I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed if I didn't constantly sleep past ten, because not only am I up past two most nights writing--which is a huge part of my life--it has to do with my medical issues, and I compensate. My time is differently-shaped, and my use of it is my business.

I'm not saying you shouldn't complain about being busy. I'm saying stop shaming other people because their "busy" doesn't look like yours.


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