Being Busy All The Time Is Not A Necessity.
When I was in college, everyone I knew was busy all the time. From freshman year to senior year, most of my friends and acquaintances were constantly occupied with back-to-back projects, with little time for rest or socializing. It was so pervasive in my circles that I began to feel inadequate. I wasn’t busy all the time! Was I doing something wrong? Was the existence of free time in my schedule a sign that I was lazy? Did my lack of involvement in back-to-back projects mean that no one wanted me around? It bugged me throughout my college years, to varying degrees.
The same thing happened once I started doing webcomics professionally, back in 2004. Lots of my fellow webcomickers were constantly working on projects, constantly hustling to get their work noticed or to that elusive “next level,” with little time to socialize outside of convention weekends. And again, I began to feel inadequate. Why didn’t I feel the need to constantly hustle and chase that elusive “next level” at the expense of my free time? Was I not dedicated enough to my work, since I had time to myself? It bugged me for years, and still nags me to this day if I let it.
It took me a long time to realize that being busy all the time isn’t a requirement for whatever you consider success. If being busy all the time helps you feel successful, then more power to you! If it’s a state that energizes you and makes you feel productive, then by all means work as long and constantly as you can! But having free time isn’t a measure of your laziness, and lack of insane ambition doesn’t mean you love what you do any less. It can mean you’ve found your groove, and your balance. It can mean that you’ve achieved a level of busy you can handle, and feeling pressured to work past that boundary can lead to burnout or resentment for the thing you used to love.
I feel I’ve achieved that level of balance. I’m okay not being busier than I have to be. Some days are longer than others, and there are stretches of time when the balance goes away, but for the most part I feel I’ve found my groove. Most of that balance comes from achieving a mental equilibrium. I’m okay with not being busy all the time. It’s taken me years to realize it’s not a requirement for making independent comics, or any other creative endeavor. It’s a viable option if you can handle it, but it’s not a template that everyone has to follow.
I like what free time I have. I spend it with my son. And as long as I have this precious balance, I’m going to enjoy it.
DISCLAIMER: I realize that some people have no choice but to be busy all the time. Financial woes and struggles can be outside of anyone’s control, no matter how dedicated or skilled someone may be, and being super busy just to make ends meet is nothing to be ashamed of. In that unfortunate case, it is a necessity, and it’s a burden I wish no one had to bear.