Carly Keyes: Be a human being, not a human doing

By Carly Keyes, Daily Health and Fitness Columnist
Published April 8, 2014

As part of the Minor in Writing program at the University, I took a class called “Art of the Essay,” which not only supplied me with ample sentence structure and grammar skills for future column crafting, but it was just one of those real academic experiences. I felt almost as if we were more of a young club of passionate ultra-literate people who met twice weekly to tell stories and talk about all aspects of the written word instead of just being a bunch of undergraduates seeking credits.

But, every week, twice a week, as we entered the classroom and casually checked in, we all reported feeling two things: busy and tired. If I could have a dollar for every time … seriously.

It’s far too easy to get swept away in the faux allure of being chronically busy and constantly tired, morphing into a human doing rather than remain a human being, and I am the guiltiest offender when it comes to busyness and self-inflicted fatigue.

I have a hard time saying no to an academic or professional commitment because somehow I believe that if I’m busier then it means I’m accomplishing more in life; if I’m tired at the end of the day it means I’m getting stuff done. Lately, I've been taking on so many creative projects, on top of a full load of classes, that it’s resulted in a rest schedule of a sporadic napping rather than habitual sleeping.

Even now, I’m writing this column entirely more last minute than I typically like, because I’m so damn busy and tired … and you are, too, aren’t you? It’s that time of year again. Final papers, final exams, final projects — a slew of final tests to gauge just how well we’ve paid attention over the semester.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that some things are just more important. I’m not saying don’t prepare for your finals; I’m just saying as you trudge this road to a happy destiny, keep things in perspective.

This past weekend, I had two events planned that I’d been looking forward to for weeks, even months, and when I realize that they had come up already, my first, inherent, fear-based reaction was: “I might be too tired and busy to go …”

The first was a Pistons game, and while I don’t really care for professional basketball, I was going in a suite with three of my best friends in recovery who all live about an hour away, and I don’t get to see them anywhere as much as I’d like. The second was a concert in Detroit, namely Taking Back Sunday and The Used, two bands my little sister and I have each cherished for over a decade. My sister also happens to be moving to California in the fall, so I knew that, after the summer ends, this concert might be one of our last together for a while.

I went to the basketball game; I went to the concert. Did this take time? Yes. Hours of my time that I could’ve technically been using to write pages for my full-length script that’s due in ten days or editing my feet upon feet of 16mm footage or writing this column. But taking a break from being busy and tired brought me exactly what you’d expect: pause, energy, opportunities to breathe again.

For the first time in a long time, I laughed and cheered and jumped and sang and danced, and I returned to my previous state of busyness and tiredness just a little more free and invigorated. So, as this is my last health and fitness column of the semester, I will leave one last piece of direct advice: As you venture into the end of April, tired and busy, and then dive into your summer internships and occupations, to become even more tired and even busier, don’t forget about your purpose.

Ask yourself if what you’re constantly working towards, what you’re constantly doing, is worth it. And then, take in a game, a concert, a movie, anything … to restore the human being.