“Sorry, I’ve just been so busy lately…”

This line.

Why do we use this line?

Let me tell you a story and also give you a warning; if you use this line on people and believe it to be true, you won’t like this post.

I knew of two friends once, they were close. Not living in each others’ pockets close. Nevertheless, they were close. They happened to be neighbours, went to the same schools until high school level- eventually going their seperate academic paths. I noticed them grow apart somewhat when they hit university age. Recently I learnt that one of the friends is trying to rekindle the friendship on the grounds they had been busy but now really want to build bridges, but the other party is reluctant to mend said bridges. I asked them why they were not interested in putting the past behind them and their reply resonated with me to this day; “no one’s busy for six years, tam.”

The reason it stayed with me is because I am and have always been the idiot who gets screwed over with; “sorry tam, I have been so busy lately, you don’t even understand, I haven’t had time to scratch my head today, I’m not even sure I ate lunch can you believe that?”

I used to be so forgiving and understanding of these excuses, “No hey, I get it. Take your time. No rush, we can catch up some other time. Make sure you eat, make sure you sleep, make sure you breathe.” I’m pretty sure I reminded someone to shower once.

When I hit 30 (yes, children that’s how old I am), I was asked time and time again, “how does it feel?” And I’d answer honestly, “my knees hurt, but it pretty much feels the same.” But actually, I have noticed some differences. I can’t speak for all the folk who recently hit 30, this just applies to me, lest a fellow 30 year old bites my head off for passing off inaccurate facts.

The differences are; you start to give a crap about your health some. My doctor said to me, “I’ve seen you more in the last 3 months than I have seen you in the last 6 years.” I’m not a hypochondriac, the last place I want to be is at the doctors, but I happen to have some medical issues I need to take care of and 30 has scared me into sorting them out. Your body starts to work backwards when you hit 30, like it has to do overtime just to keep up.

Mull those words over before you dismiss my statement as dramatic. Why do you think some women struggle to have kids after 30? Or people struggle to lose weight post 30? Or your knees and joints start ricketting to remind you of their presence post 30?

Disclaimer: I know that shit can happen at 20 and 60 too.

I digress.

I read once that nobody is that busy and it’s just about priorities. If you make it on someone’s priority list; then you are important enough to them to interrupt their day for.

I have made so many excuses for people who told me they were too busy to keep in touch. But one of the other things 30 does to you is give you the biggest reality check and I truly believe the above statement to be the absolute honest truth now.

I have always to the best of my knowledge made time for the people I deemed important in my life.

I know I have stayed up to converse with people who live in a different time zone from me when it was a reasonable hour for them but a God forsaken hour for me. And I am talking daft o’clock, people not something cute like midnight. Not because anyone asked me to but because I valued that person and their conversation and would not have had the time to speak to them otherwise so I made them a priority.

I’ve always tried to take 30 seconds of my busy ass day– where I have taught for 7 hours, sat in a sinfully boring meeting for another 2, tutored for an even further 2; was stuck in traffic for 30 minutes, went home to a billion and one things to do- to make someone smile. For instance, I wished someone a happy birthday recently who happened to be my best friend literally twenty years ago. Let that sink in. Some of you weren’t even born then. She wasn’t just touched, she was pure shocked I remembered without the aid of social media.

I have always tried to reply to all the personal messages I get, if not straight away then the next day at the latest. I make this distinction because tags, memes, links, videos, forwards, duaa photo cards, repeated requests for money, images of frogs on lily pads saying good morning and owls on trees saying good night are not things that always warrant a response in my opinion.

I am not saying these things to toot my own horn and I apologise profusely that that is indeed how all this is coming across. But I can’t help but notice that over the years, very little has stopped me making time for the people I cherished and respected.

I was drowning in deadlines at university and still made the time for a prick who begged me to write his final Year essay on Architecture which I know squat about. But I did it with the help of google and his sorry ass next to me explaining architectural key terms that I didn’t get. I did it because he was a good friend, because his mother pleaded with me and mostly because I am a caring idiot.

Plot twist: by the time his results for the paper came out (a high pass by the way!) he became uber stupid religious and replied to my message of “how did it go?” with “could you refrain from contacting me in future? You are not my wife and men and women aren’t supposed to talk.”

Death and depression (the not getting out of bed for being emotionally paralysed kind of depression) are the only things that have stopped me responding to or initiating contact with people in recent times. For I too used to use the “I have been busy” line.

I’m not perfect. When I clock that I am starting to neglect loved ones, when I get lazy about it, I wake myself up, hit the refresh button and try again. And of course there are exceptions to every rule like outgrowing relationships and drifting apart and that’s life…

To conclude, I have reached a place in life where if I make time for someone and they don’t feel the need to reciprocate because “I’m busy – she will still be there when I eventually get the time to reply to her message… 16 days later – she will understand,” I ain’t playing no more.

I’m sorry. I don’t care if you were saving cats from burning buildings, if you nipped down to a war stricken country to personally deliver aid or if you were discovering how to rid the ocean of plastic. It’s not difficult to sign in now and then, and its even easier to say, “you know what? I’ve just read this and Ima get back to you after I finish my shift / building this orphanage.”

The list of people who prioritise me in their life has been a sad but real eye opener. I discovered a lump on my… person recently that I needed to get checked out because prevention is better than cure and all that. I discovered it at like 2am and I blew the whole thing out of proportion, convinced myself it was cancerous etc.

The only person I wanted to tell about this ignored my timid; hey listen I’m worried about something. And then replied a hundred years later with been busy and you know what I am worried about? this, this, this, and that. I thought to myself been busy? Yet they still had time to be active on social media?

I was crushed.

…do not try to “out-busy” people as a defense to your lack of care, we all have the same twenty four hours in a day.

Peace out x

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26 comments

  1. This has so many things which I agree upon.

    A brilliantly written post indeed.

    I read it some 2 hours back but didn’t have the sanity to comment then but I’m doing it now.

    Everyone needs to read this one as a reality check. No one is busy enough – it’s just about priorities and ofc when you prioritise you do need to give up on some things in order to catch up with others.

    It is not possible that you can give time to every thing/one because it just doesn’t work.

    We all have 24 hours and we are in full control how and where we spend it. If someone does decide to give their time to something it’s mostly by choice but is almost everytime at the sacrifice of something else.

    This can’t be avoided – some people people fail to understand this though.

    It is not possible to reply to everyone, do every task on to-do list, read a whole book, listen to people, go to work, do overtime, make stuff, plan stuff, laugh, cry, share.

    I every single day realise that there’s so much to do and so little time, and I respect people who respect my time.

    Sorry for such a long comment.

    Keep up the good writing game! 😸👍

    1. Thanks. Good luck with the so much to do and may your life be filled with people who give you that much needed space to do it all if that’s how you want it. Ultimately one should only keep the people they value around them anyway. Not people to fill a space, a moment of boredom and a 4:00am. When people mean something to you they deserve more than the spare 30 minutes you find in your schedule between playing tennis and digging up a well for the poor after all.

      1. Thank you for that.

        People they value or things we value or like do what we value.

        People should not be filled in space rather space should be made for people, but it think we should only make space for people who encourage you in your endeavours rather than bring you down and demotivate you.

        Yes that’s very true – 30 minutes can never hurt anyone but the point I mentioned above is very important.

        Because even if you give 30 minutes to someone who demotivates you it would be so bad.

        Positivity is what everyone should seek Always like ALWAYS!

      2. Nah, dont let them drag you down. I cut out people like Shams from my life occasionally because the excessive positivity can sometimes be forceful and nauseating. So you do you. You wanna cut out demotivaters? Do it. I know people have cut me out for being, whats the word…. “toxic.” And that’s also their call.

      3. As usual lets agree to disagree, Bilal. And if you’re waving goodbye to toxic folk then that includes me I take it. Shall we have a farewell event? Lol.

  2. It’s an easy excuse – but it sometimes masks the fact that some people just don’t WANT to interact with you. Either now, or permanently. And that’s ok. I think it’s best to not take things personally, not retain hopes, but nevertheless just remain open to their company “someday” in future. You never know when your paths may cross in a meaningful way again.

    1. I’m not talking about people who don’t want to interact with you. That’s a different kettle of fish altogether. I’m talking about “friends” here that “really wanna touch base” but have been “so busy.” To each his own. I feel like filing things under the “don’t take things personally” umbrella is what landed me on the bottom of a lot of people’s list of priorities in the first place.

  3. This is so important. I can get really lazy sometimes and its always been simpler to say ‘I’ve been busy with XYZ”. I realised that only harms me in the long run – its very easy to drift apart if you don’t make an effort. On the flipside, I dont know if its a woman thing but I’ve made so many excuses for people. But you’re right – no matter how grave a situation, I always check in with the people I care about.

    1. Definitely is a woman thing. And I agree with you it harms us and definitely causes us to drift apart from loved ones.

      A few days after my grandfather died, I went through all my messages and thanked everyone for the time they took to contact me etc even though all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and cry. That was a grave situation but I still tried to show people the respect they deserved.

      We’re only human though and there is always room for improvement. For instance, my mum told me last night that my grandma has been asking about me and saying she hasn’t seen me in the longest time. I said to mum, “man I feel really awful, I’ve just been so busy with…” then I immediately thought – hang on, no! That’s not acceptable whatsoever, I just haven’t prioritised going to see her lately which is shameful but I am going to remedy that, so I am going to go today and spend some time with her.

      Its okay to forget and to get distracted with life we are only human. But as long as we are always hitting that referesh button… we can sleep easy at night knowing we are not making people feel like they mean squat to us.

  4. First of all – I hope that lump was nothing too serious. I’m sorry that the person you wanted support from didn’t give it. ❤

    Gurl, yes to this post. You are so right. I’ve been you, staying up until crazy times to talk to people, putting things off, bending over backwards, fighting their battles. People are selfish by nature. Some people learn how to be considerate. Some don’t.

    Smh @ “could you refrain from contacting me in future? You are not my wife and men and women aren’t supposed to talk.” Yooooo. I wish someone would send me this after I wrote their paper for them. What an ingrate.

    I’ve noticed that people do that a lot. You voice a concern and they ignore it and bring up one of their own. You’re just like ‘okay… do I respond or ignore them and be a hypocrite?’. These days I don’t reply to things like that. It’s a waste of time. Keep the same energy and just keep taking about your thing. Eventually, they get the hint.

    I hardly ever use that ‘been busy’ line. I’ll be honest. I’m that girl who will reply after a month but I’ll apologize profusely and not give an excuse. There is no excuse. It’s rude to ignore someone point blank period, even if you forget.

    I’m also not going to be all up over Twitter either. I don’t get that. The busiest people seem to find time to be on their phones constantly, watch 50 shows and whatnot, but not two mins to reply a message. They will then return like nothing has happened and do the same thing all over again.

    It’s a sad world that we live in.

    1. Thank you for asking. It was nothing serious and only cost me 3 hours of sleep creating God awful scenarios in my head at silly o’clock. Why do we do this? Smh.

      Yeah the architecture student was a douche – like I had my own deadlines to deal with and his stupid essay took me 8 hours to write because like I said, I know nothing about architecture!

      I was guilty of the busy line a lot but now I make a concious effort not to use it and have only really dished it out when I ignore people who only message me to ask for money because as much as I like to think I am a bottomless pit of fortune – I am obviously not.

      I appreciate that this post was a bit out there for some (read: blokes)… It comes across like I am saying everyone should be all up in everyone’s pockets all the time and that we should constantly be on the phone to one another which I am not.

      I am just saying that shelving issues like this under the “it’s probably nothing / let me not take it personally / I’m not going to blow it out of proportion” files is how we all wind up getting screwed over and lowering our standards.

      Why? We. Deserve. Better.

      1. That’s true (we deserve better). Although, sometimes people have been let down so many times that not taking it personally is the only thing that keeps them sane. Low expectations is key sometimes. I do agree with you, but there are just too many selfish people in the world.

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