Fifteen hours later I have emerged from sleep. I’m not sure what you would say, if I were to tell you I am still exhausted. I worked hard last week – sometimes not leaving the office till gone 9pm, alarm clock waking me at 6am. Lectures, school visits, students. And I could sense that it was making me tireder and tireder, but I really didn’t want to let people down, so I kept going.
And now that feels futile. Like, why did I bother to try to please everyone? Because I noticed something else this week, too. There is a positive correlation between how well someone knows me, and how busy they are. In other words, the better someone knows me, the more busy they tell me they are, if I ask to see the one-to-one. It’s a pattern. Not just one or two people.
It’s a correlation. There are outliers. Some people keep coming back to me. I am unspeakably grateful to them. It’s a correlation. As a stats teacher, I know that doesn’t mean causation. That knowing me doesn’t make people busy. But I can’t help wondering why it is the case. Why they say they are too busy. It worries me. What is it that these people can’t stand? Why do they run in the other direction? What it is that they detest?
It’s a correlation. It may be nothing to do with me at all. Hey – these people might genuinely be busy. But I turn it over and over in my mind. I can’t let go. When I am busy, and someone asks me to meet up, I move everything else around so that I can. I rarely say no – in the end. I am desperate to be liked. The distress of saying no is just too much. Yet other people tell me straight: they are busy.
This difference between me and them is what makes hearing “busy” hard. Even when I’m ill and exhausted, I’m never too busy. Unless I really care nothing for that person. I hear that the other person doesn’t care. That’s why “busy” is so hard. I hate this.