In our society, busyness has always been a marker of success.
We talk with pride about how ridiculously busy we are, telling our friends stories of running from office to exercise class to night out, juggling housework with overtime and late night emails and children and pets and freelancing and travel.
We take a perverse pride in our exhaustion, showing it off on social media, telling everyone how we worked until after midnight, before getting up at 5.30am to fit in a run before going back to the office.
We’re in a constant state of competition to be the busiest, the most tired, to work the longest hours.
Here’s the thing: it’s not a competition.
Can you only be tired if you have children, or work a certain job?
Why do we always have to have it harder than our friends, who are dealing with their own exhaustion that may or may not compare to our own?
The problem isn’t your friend whose life looks different to yours.
It’s the boss who thinks it’s acceptable to pile impossible amounts of work onto an overstretched team, calling them inefficient and unorganised when they buckle under the inevitable strain.
It’s the company who makes staff redundant but increases their services, forcing those who are left to work harder or get out.
It’s the government who want us all to work longer hours and pay more taxes, make the country more productive and ourselves less reliant. Better yourself, take on more debt, support the NHS and the pension system, like a giant Ponzi scheme that’s poised to come tumbling down around our ears.
It’s the society that has forgotten the value of rest and slowing down, of disconnecting from the frantic pace of modern life.
Instead of scoring points off each other, of making someone else feel bad because they can’t possibly be as tired as you, can’t we offer each other sympathy and support?
When did we accept that work had the power to take over our lives so completely, to affect our health and our mental wellbeing?
Everyone needs time to rest without feeling that they should be tackling their to-do list instead. Make it your priority to look after yourself and support someone else if you can.
After all, success doesn’t have to be about the number of hours you work.