Like a lot of people my age who are trying to Make It Happen, I’ve kind of got a lot of shit going on right now. I work a full-time job that I don’t love to pay the bills, work at an online fashion magazine after my office job everyday, and entertain you fools by spinning embarrassing tales on this here website. Not to mention the fact that I am trying to maintain a relationship without looking like a deranged car-keyer, and pursue serious personal interests like: learning Portuguese, watching every C-list dance movie ever made, and stalking Tom Hanks on Facebook. Because of my busy schedule, I can get pretty self-important at times, back-burnering my friends’ requests to hang out because, “I’m too busy.” Instead of taking an hour out of my life to sit on a stoop and eat tacos like a hoodrat with my buds, I choose to stomp around and talk about stress like one of those tight bun-sporting “career women” in a rom com. In my case, the Devil doesn’t wear Prada, she wears crochet sweaters from Unique Thrift Store. That is, until it was recently brought to my attention that this type of behavior is totally fucking obnoxious.
My friend Dorothy had asked me to go out with her a few times, all of which I had turned down with “I’m too busy,” or “I’m so stressed– I have so much going on!”-type excuses. Fed up with me putting myself on a OMG-I-work-Iook-at-me-I’m-so-special pedestal, she shot back, “Please. You’re not Oprah. If Oprah has time to hang out, then you have time to have time to hang out.” Whoa, girl. Talk about putting a bitch in her place! But she was right– if Her Majesty Oprah can practically rule the world–all while maintaining regular romps in the woods with her “BFF”/secret lesbian lover, Gayle– then I could definitely find time to guzzle a beer with my homegirl.
Ever since that modern-day-Socrates, a.k.a. Dorothy, bestowed those wise words upon me, I’ve managed to make time to hang with my friends, no matter how busy I am. It’s called time management, people! As lame as it may sound, not procrastinating, and making some sort of schedule can do wonders for your stress levels. I’m not saying that you should carry around a planner full of to-do lists and make a big show of “penciling” people in– because, hello, living your entire life off of a checklist is uptight and flat-out boring. But like, maybe you could take about fifteen minutes on Sunday night to sit and think about everything you have to do for the week, figure out where you have a free space, and spend less time Facebook stalking Tom Hanks (no matter how adorable it is that he signs all of his status updates “Hanx!” and talks about how much he loves Rita Wilson all of the time… swoon). If you kind of have a loose idea of what absolutely needs to get done right away and what doesn’t (I think real adults call this “prioritizing”?), you’ll probably find a hole that you can fill with some friend time. So cut back on the Internet (except reading this website, of course), and go get a face-to-face sesh in with your pals instead.
But really, whether you have time management issues or are a hyper-efficient cyborg, the secret to non-obnoxiously managing a busy schedule is all in the attitude. At the height of my annoying workaholic transformation, I was addicted to making my life as miserable as possible. I’d live off a “fashion diet” of candy, caffeine, and personality drinks (so many, in fact, that I had personality spewing forth from my body– in the form of personality drink vomit, that is), stay up all night for no reason, and complain the ear off of anyone who would listen. What I really needed was some FREE meditation sessions, a salad, and to shut my burrito-hole post-haste, because no one likes a stress acne-riddled lady who bitches all of the time. I was lucky that Dorothy put me in my place by using my personal god Oprah as an example, but you might not be. So, here’s my biggest tip: pretty much everyone works, and pretty much everyone is stressed out. You’re not special, and treating your friends like emotional garbage bins by complaining to them all of the time will only make them resent you like the kids of divorced parents resent their new moms. Do you really want your friends– your lifetime amigos– to yell “You’re not my real mother!”, run out of the room hate-crying, and spend years in psychotherapy because of you? Or whatever. I didn’t think so.
So, figure out whatever’s gonna calm you down, and do it. Peace comes from within, dudes. Maybe you don’t have the time or money to go on a calming yoga retreat, but you can at least put something in your body besides ciggies and a Trader Joe’s bottle of wine for one. And please, go out with your friends. They love you and miss you, and want you to stop wearing a tight bun and pantsuits, and referring to yourself as a “power bitch.” And, bonus points!: spending time with them will make you happier, I promise. You do have time. I know, I know, you’re just so busy getting your second Master’s degree. You’re an invaluable part of the team at your unpaid internship. You’re slaving away on your screenplay. Tom Hanks’s Facebook profile is just calling your name. But guess what? You’re not Oprah. And if Oprah has time to hang out, then you sure as hell do, too.
Photo credit: Egypt Said So